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Decoy cops being used in dangerous situations

Simon Power
National Party Law & Order Spokesman

01 November 2006

Decoy cops being used in dangerous situations

Untrained decoy cops are continuing to be used in confrontational situations which put them and others at risk, says National's Law & Order spokesman, Simon Power.

In May, Mr Power highlighted the massive increase in the use of decoy cops, or temporary constables - from 17 in 2005 to 330 this year.

He is releasing police report sheets that show decoy cops:

* Used pepper spray three times in Lower Hutt court cells to control prisoners.

* Used a fire hose to control a prisoner in Tauranga police cells.

* Were directed to an incident in Wellington where a dial-a-driver was being threatened by a customer. He resisted 'violently' but they were 'unable to call for assistance' because it took 10 minutes of wrestling to get handcuffs on him.

"These incidents are cause for concern. Asking untrained cops to deal with out-of-control prisoners and violent situations is asking for trouble.

"The situation surrounding the sending of two of these decoy cops, who were in charge of a prison van and prisoners, to help the dial-a-driver is very serious.

"Why did Comms send two non-sworn officers into a violent situation? Surely that was exposing them to unfair and unnecessary risk.

"These incidents were allowed to happen despite assurances by Deputy Commissioner Rob Pope that: 'We don't as matter of policy issue temporary constables with batons, spray and the like because they are employed to do a very, very specific role, and it's not expected they would exercise powers of arrest and the like.'

"In the Wellington incident, at least, the decoy cops were doing exactly what the public has every right to expect fully trained police to do.

"The public needs to be again assured by the Police Minister that untrained decoy cops will not be put into situations which trained police should be handling for their own safety and the safety of others."

ENDS

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