Force Used On Youth Justified But Treatment While In Custody Inadequate
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found Police were justified in using force during the arrest of a 14-year-old girl in Christchurch. However, her care while in custody was inadequate.
On 27 July 2022 at approximately 2.30am, the girl was driving a Toyota as part of a convoy of three stolen cars that Police saw driving dangerously across Christchurch city. An officer located the Toyota entering the Riccarton Mall McDonald’s carpark. After the officer parked his car behind the Toyota to block it in, the girl rammed into the Police car about three times.
The officer got out of his car and requested the girl to exit the car which she ignored; the car door was locked so the officer used his baton to smash the driver’s window. Another officer joined him, and they pulled the girl out through the window. The girl urinated and soiled herself as Police removed her from the Toyota. She also suffered a cut to her head, glass in her right eye and bruises on her body.
Police arrested the girl and took her into custody. They gave her access to a sink and wipes to clean herself and a change of clothes but denied her request for a shower.
We found that the force used by the officers was reasonable, necessary, and proportionate to the force the girl used in resistance by ramming the Police car. However, we found that by not allowing the girl to shower Police breached their policy for managing people in custody and acted inconsistently with the s23(5) of the Bill of Rights Act.
The Authority considers that the degree of vigour in executing the arrest appeared to be justified considering the dynamic circumstances surrounding her arrest. However, the Authority found it appalling that she wasn’t given opportunity to shower. Since the incident Police have taken proactive steps to ensure they have adequate clothing and have reminded custody staff of their obligations.