No Right Turn asks some questions about the behaviour of the Independent Police Conduct Authority in deeming the release of information about unlawful behaviour by the Police as “not in the public interest”. There are few safeguards on the police – perhaps the main one should explain its decision in this case. Reproduced with permission for discussion.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority are our watchdog for the police. So how independent are they? A story in the Dominion Post this morning gives the answer: not very. Confronted with a case showing appalling unlawful behaviour by police in persecuting an innocent woman, they refused to release their report as it was “not in the public interest”:
The Dominion Post has a copy of the secret September 2009 IPCA report into a string of complaints laid by former policeman Dave White about the 2005 arrest of Mrs Teokotai, his mother-in-law.The IPCA did not make public its findings because the authority deemed them not of sufficient public interest. It found:
[Superintendent Gary] Smith and [Bay of Plenty police professional standards head Garth] Bryan acted unlawfully by not telling Commissioner Howard Broad and the IPCA about Mr White’s complaint.
Mr Burns and Mr Bryan showed “poor judgment” and failed best practice and police instructions by appointing a Tokoroa senior sergeant with “a clear conflict of interest” to look into the complaint.
Detectives involved in the investigation into Mrs Teokotai acted unprofessionally and two officers appear to have refused to be interviewed about the complaint.
Tokoroa police acted unlawfully by arresting her and lacked justification to incarcerate her and seize her passport and property.
Police breached their legal responsibility to disclose their evidence against her until six months after the case was dismissed.
The initial internal inquiry into complaints against the officers involved “lacked any semblance of independence and professionalism”.
The response to Mr White’s complaint was “totally mismanaged by senior officers”.
I would have thought that releasing this sort of report was very much in the public interest. It would show that the conduct of police was being monitored, thus building faith in the system. Instead, by keeping it secret, the IPCA have simply shown that when it matters, when police behave unlawfully, they will cover it up for them. And then they wonder why the public has no faith in them…
And then there’s the kicker: the officers criticised by the IPCA have been promoted. Smith, who covered up the complaint, got a top job in London as a police liaison. Bryan got a senior job at Police National Headquarters. These are cops who covered up for their mates, who have no place in our police force. The fact that they are still wearing the uniform speaks volumes about the police’s tolerance for the criminals among them and their utter lack of commitment to cleaning house. It shows us they have learned absolutely nothing from the police rape scandal. And it shows us that they are utterly unworthy of our respect.