Written By: - Date published: 11:04 am, November 7th, 2013 - 140 comments
Categories: accountability, crime, john key, Judith Collins, national/act government, police, slippery - Tags: anne tolley, rape culture
Recent revelations show that much more needs to be done to prevent and respond to the trauma resulting from sexual assault and rape. It has also been a difficult time for many people following the reports and engaging in discussions. Ally Garrett provides a very helpful guide in self-care in this current context.
In the last 24 hours we have learned that the police were wrong in stating that there were no formal complaints against the Roast busters, and thus they had been unable to anything to reign in the activities of the group. Now the police have confirmed that there were four complaints from alleged Roast Buster victims between 2011 and 2012. The Waitemata District Commander Bill Searle has apologised. However, apologies are routine, and don’t necessarily indicate change (see the 2007 response to the Bazley Report).
Meanwhile the PM and relevant ministers (Anne Tolley for Police, and Judith Collins for Justice) have been remarkably low key in their responses to the case. John Key’s reactions have been off-key. Tolley this morning is taking an “I knew nuzzink” approach. Yesterday in the House Judith Collins responses to questions had all the appearance of stonewalling with the sound of feet dragging. From none of them was there any expression of urgency in questioning the police on their approach to the case.
And yet, given the past record of the police in relation to sexual assault and rape, and the limited progress reportedly achieved after the Bazely inquiry into police conduct, these ministers should have been very concerned about the unfolding of the Roast Buster case.
Following the appalling revelations by Louise Nicholas and Judith Garrett about their rape and sexual assault by police officers the Bazley Inquiry was carried out. The subsequent report was released in 2007. One of the key things it recommended was on-going monitoring of the police conduct and culture in relation to sexual assault.
It also distinguished five patterns of unprofessional behaviour amongst certain elements within Police that needed to be addressed.
In June 2007, Cabinet requested quarterly monitoring reports produced jointly by Police, the State Services Commission, and the Ministry of Justice (on behalf of the Independent Police Conduct Authority).
Under John Key’s watch, the amount of monItoring by the State Services has been relaxed a little:
In 2012, the Minister for State Services recommended that the format of the quarterly reports be condensed. By 2013 the State Services and Ministry of Justice involvement in this joint report was minimal, so the agencies proposed that they no longer needed to participate in the development of quarterly reports, and should instead comment by exception. This proposal received Ministerial approval, and a new reporting format was adopted from 31 March 2013.
Nevertheless the State Services Commissioner has continued to annual reports based on an annual workplace survey. And yet, back in 2007, John Key as leader of the opposition had spoken very strongly about the need for on-going monitoring, especially by the State Services Commission:
“Just as worrying is Dame Margaret’s comments that she is concerned the police impetus for change may not be sustained once the Commission has reported.
“For that reason she’s recommended oversight by the State Services Commissioner with annual audits of police culture, and monitoring of the Commission’s recommendations over the next 10 years by the Auditor-General.
The Workplace surveys are wide ranging and not specifically focused on the conduct of police with respect to sexual assault and rape.
Meanwhile Judith Collins has talked tough about improving the culture of police, while providing limited evidence of positive initiatives or results. The State Services Commissioner’s report in 2011 showed that progress had stalled:
The report, by PriceWaterhouseCoopers in conjunction with the SSC, is the third since the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct led by Dame Margaret Bazley reported back in April 2007, that urgent, co-ordinated action was needed.
The report said that while police had made significant progress on culture change, senior management lacked confidence to make bold moves toward change.
It said that progress seemed to have reached a plateau.
“There is a lack of faith in police leadership because rhetoric does not always align to action,” the report said.
It said the police “need credible leaders who are great role models, do as they say and act decisively with regards to poor performance and practice”.
Police said this evening they acknowledge the need for traction around culture changes in the organisation.
Collins made noises about pressuring for better progress, in the face of a hard core within the police resistant to change:
“There are not that many of these people but unfortunately they have become very difficult to shift,” she said.
“Police middle and senior management need to be provided with the tools and the assistance to sort those matters out, because these very few people are making the work environment for the other officers difficult and they are being intransigent. That needs to be sorted.”
It seemed like Collins was putting pressure on the police behind the scenes. New targets were set in 2012, and Anne Tolley commended some changes:
Police would now report directly to the State Services Commission, which was “a significant step”, Police Minister Anne Tolley said.
And yet, in spite of the fact the Key, Collins and Tolley knew there were on-going issues with the culture within the police, their low key response to the Roast Buster case seems remarkably negligent.
There is clear evidence that there is a poor culture within the NZ Police in relation to sexual assault and rape, and relevant police procedure: one resistant to change.
As a result, the young women who complained to the police about Roast Busters have been been re-traumatised by the treatment they received.
What will it take to make society safer for such young women, with a police and justice system that works for and with them, and not against them?