The police should be above the law

Written By: - Date published: 7:11 am, July 1st, 2015 - 34 comments
Categories: law, law and "order", police - Tags: , ,

The police should be above the law. Well that’s the opinion of Judith Collins at least, in this piece from last week. It’s so mind boggling that I have to quote it at length:

Devil is in the detail for undercover cops in Red Devils case
JUDITH COLLINS

Nelson police targeted the Red Devils gang in the undercover Operation Explorer, from September 2009 to March 2011. Explorer resulted in more than 150 charges, including drugs, firearms and conspiracy charges, being laid against 21 members and associates of the gang. That sounds like a great result to me.

But, the Crown recently dropped the case after Justice David Collins stayed a majority of the charges because, he says, evidence for them was ‘improperly’ obtained by police. Justice Collins ruled police probably broke the law when they forged that search warrant and prosecuted an undercover officer to bolster his credibility with the gang. He said the police’s actions amounted to “significant misconduct” and possible “serious criminal offending”.

Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess has said officers involved in the fake warrant and prosecution “were acting in the honest belief that their actions were lawful and necessary to protect the undercover officer”.

I couldn’t agree more with the police. It is simply outrageous that serious criminal offending by a dangerous gang be allowed to go unanswered. Their illegal firearms continue to be out on the streets, and these dangerous criminals continue to be a risk to families and communities. The gang must be laughing. The message is clear to criminal gangs. Let your new friend know you think they could be police, know that if they are, the operation will be closed down.

Justice Collins justified his decision saying that allowing the trials to continue, based on improperly obtained evidence, would undermine public confidence in the justice system. I think what undermines public confidence in the justice system is seeing serious and violent criminals set free, and police officers risking their lives or being killed in the line of duty for nothing.

In the same piece Phil Goff was quoted in reply:

We need to empower and resource our police to take effective action against organised crime. However, the police are subject to the rule of law. If the law is not effective change it. You had the chance, Judith. But don’t suggest that the police or anyone else should be able to act outside of it.

Good to see Jarrod Gilbert taking up the issue yesterday:

Jarrod Gilbert: Collins’ defence of police offending indefensible

So common is political foolishness that it has become barely remarkable. But wrong in principle and crooked in logic, Judith Collins’ effort last week was a special example.

In a newspaper column, Collins expressed outrage that charges relating to the Red Devils Motorcycle Club were dropped due to what Justice David Collins described as “serious misconduct” and possible “serious criminal offending” by police. She bristled at the suggestion that any action be taken against the offending police officers.

Judith Collins is of the view that police can break the law in performing their duties based on the rationale that their job is dangerous and important. She was defending, among other things, the police forging a court document.

Judith Collins’s view on this is frightful. A former justice minister should not need reminding that the integrity of the justice system is paramount. And that the police are not above the law.

Read on for plenty more.

Judith Collins should not be allowed anywhere near oversight of the justice system ever again.

34 comments on “The police should be above the law”

  1. Charles 1

    Essential reading supporting the above post: from Bryce Edwards Lecturer in Politics University of Otago.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11427914

    “…In any society, the police force plays a crucial role in bolstering the Establishment of the day. Their role is to maintain the status quo and they reflect the power relations in society, which means they tend to side with the powerful.”

    “…In such a conservative culture, incompetence and corrupt investigative practices are too easily tolerated. They are not always addressed and shoddy police standards can flourish. The flow-on effect is an increase in botched prosecutions, mistrials, judicial appeals, unsafe convictions and ultimately compensation paid to the unfairly incarcerated…”

    “…Criminologists sometimes call this “noble cause corruption” because the offence is often committed with the belief that it is for the right reasons or the perceived “greater good”. It’s an ethic of “it’s okay to break the law to uphold the law”. Ex-police inspector and parliamentarian Ross Meurant has spoken out about this type of activity, relaying his own observations of the emergence of “a corruption of zealousness; where the police break the law to put someone behind bars because of the belief within the police that they know what is best for society”. He adds that it works alongside a police culture that is “conservative in its origins and mostly bigoted and intolerant”…”

    When Ross Meurant says it’s not right, you’d better believe it. Some of you may remember him from such great moments as The 1981 Springbok Tour.

    “To this day I still defend that police action. We had no choice. We were the meat in the sandwich – fail and the institutions of the State would have been emasculated by a competing brute force. But the police were cynically used for a political objective.”…”

  2. Lanthanide 2

    I have sympathy for Collins’ point, and I’m sure it will be the popular public opinion, that the police should be able to use any means necessary to crack organised crime (and that no one was ‘hurt’ by their offending).

    But the correct course of action is pretty obvious (especially when you were police minister in the government at the time) – make a special law that gives undercover police operations extra powers that would normally be illegal. I guess the problem is that these special powers would need to have very careful oversight, and that’s where the whole thing becomes ‘too difficult’ and ‘too expensive’. Them’s the breaks, I’m afraid.

    • Puckish Rogue 2.1

      This would be a very good and simple solution and as such won’t be implemented

    • dukeofurl 2.2

      The reality is that in spite of 3 moths worth of undercover cops infiltration and electronic bugging they had nothing to show for it.

      It was to cover someones arse for a waste of police time and resources that this carefully crafted corruption of the court process was dreamt up.

      There wasnt just a fake search warrant with a forged signature, a court case that was a sham, but after that they dreamt up a justification using a dead judges name to cover it all up.

    • TE 2.3

      Do you mean something like the Search and Surveillance Act concerning the Tuhoe raids.

      2nd Sept 2011 NZ government was advised by the Supreme Court All covert video surveillance by police was unlawful.

      The NZ government decided to legislate to reverse that decision.

      27th Sept 2011 The Bill Search and Surveillance Act was introduced under urgency ‘declared video surveillance lawful no matter when it occured’

      3rd Oct the Bill was ammended, ‘Past surveillance would not be made lawful but convictions obtained using evidence from such surveillance would not be challenged

      Governments making up their own rules since …. forever.
      What about their own law breakers?
      Who will change the Name Suppression Act to out them?

      Meanwhile Judy Collins is still making noises from her seat at the back.

      • Colonial Rawshark 2.3.1

        Yeah, Magna Carta was created to prevent this kind of bullshit behvaiour by rulers.

    • Tracey 2.4

      There is a reason why we have “technicalities” it is precisely to ensure the police don’t become criminals in their desire to catch criminals, and the “collateral damgae” of some innocent folks until they get to the guilty ones.

      Putting too much faith in people who underwent 3 months training before having all kinds of powers is a dangerous thing. Not jsut “difficult” and “expensive” but dangerous.

      Ms Collins is beating up law and order cos she has a very personal end goal in mind, imo. Disingenuous comes to mind of this former law and president of the auckland district law society.

    • Mike S 2.5

      “make a special law that gives undercover police operations extra powers that would normally be illegal.”

      Or…. Stop being lazy, do the proper investigative work, gather the evidence and prosecute within the law, like it’s supposed to be done.

      The police breaking the law is worse than criminals doing it because the police are supposed to uphold (not enforce) the law. New laws and law changes aren’t necessary, what’s needed is competent detectives.

  3. Sable 3

    Laws allowing spying on ordinary people, dirty secretive trade deals, what amounts to gag laws to prevent legitimate on line discussion. Given how undemocratic and toxic this government have already shown themselves to be why should this latest revelation come as any surprise?

    • Colonial Rawshark 3.1

      Labour voted for the gag law and the anti-terrorism/spying legislation; they have also been very very quiet about what they will do about the TPPA if National signs it. Two sides of the same coin.

  4. repateet 4

    Judith Collins, lawyer. Judith Collins MP. Judith Collins former Minister of Police. Judith Collins former Minister of Justice.

    Judith Collins, wannabe Prime Minister.

    A book in the Bible turned into an adage, the ” Wisdom of Solomon.”

    Judith Collins does not have the wisdom of the sole of my shoe.

  5. Tracey 5

    this from the woman who made her career on loopholes and technicalities in tax law. if she said she thought the ird should be above the law in tax matterss be would be consistent at least.

  6. Anno1701 6

    I don think the police realize how separated from the citizenry they are becoming & its a real shame !

    “The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

    —- Robert Peel

  7. Pascals bookie 7

    Appalling stuff from Collins, no two ways about it.

    Complete disrespect for the courts, and for the rule of law more generally. You can’t just lie to the court, and then turn around and get upset at the court when they rightly say that’s unacceptable from the Police.

    That’s just bullshit. You can tell she is only looking for support from epople who don;t think too hard about it from the fact she hasn’t drafted a members bill. As a backbencher she can do that any time she likes. The only thing stopping her from drafting such a bill is that it’s a fucking appalling idea and she knows it.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      It’s an appalling idea alright – and it’s exactly why Collins is pushing it in order to bolster her support from the right people.

      • Tracey 7.1.1

        EXACTLY, she is going on a populist quest… and law and order is the traditional myth riddled way to do it.

  8. G C Cameron 8

    I believe Judith Collins is mentally ill. She is clearly a narcissistic sociopath – displaying extreme antisocial attitudes and behaviours. She would like to think of herself as part of the intelligentsia, however she is not even a good columnist/commentator.

    I’m not convinced she’ll ever receive the help she clearly needs. I’m being serious.

    • Colonial Rawshark 8.1

      All the ingredients for political success at the top of our system

      • G C Cameron 8.1.1

        a hahaha har

        • emergency mike 8.1.1.1

          He was being serious. Cook up a game like politics that rewards being a good liar, presenting a popular image, having no particular attachment to ‘principles’, and knowing when to make and break alliances, and you’ve got a game tailor made to the strengths of psychopaths.

          Actually there was study a while back where a bunch of Wall St financial types out-performed a group of clinically diagnosed psychopaths in just such a constructed game. Make of that what you will.

          Psychopaths can display a varying degree of narcissistic traits, and narcissists can display a varying degree of psychopathic traits. Both are attracted to the spotlight for different reasons, power over others vs self-aggrandizement. They are often seen teaming up if each feels the other can help get them what they want. The narcissist is easily manipulated by the psychopath who has the power to offer them the spotlight and other baubles. The narcissist will then happily lie and do whatever the psychopath wants. And when their usefulness is outlived or the association becomes toxic, the psychopath will enjoy throwing them under a bus. That’s politics folks.

    • Anno1701 8.2

      High functioning psychopath IMO

      • G C Cameron 8.2.1

        “High functioning psychopath IMO”
        Definitely a highly functional psychopath. She is probably more hard working than many members of parliament. When I read articles like the above one – I’m glad she is no longer ‘Minister of Police’.

    • tc 8.3

      Slots right alongside many NACT MP’s then, especially the ones lusk/williams/Eade and cohorts got into MP seats by whatever means got the job done.

      The fact she’s not facing charges or at a minimum investigation over the material in hagers book shows how untouchable they’ve all become with the arrogance levels rising as a result.

      • Enough is enough 8.3.1

        Careful now, these posts may cause the sensitive wee lass serious emotional distress counter to the new Harmful Digital Communications Bill.

        • Kevin 8.3.1.1

          True that, especially the ones calling her psychopath even though they are statements of honestly held opinion and not intended as statements of fact.

        • G C Cameron 8.3.1.2

          My claws are out today – I’m not retracting them any time soon! ‘Enough is Enough’ alright.

        • Tracey 8.3.1.3

          if only it were retrospective…

  9. emergency mike 9

    Mrs “give back double” shouldn’t be justice minister? I’m already there.

  10. JeevesPOnzi 10

    Filth.

  11. G C Cameron 11

    Now this looks like a job for GC – so everybody just follow me
    ‘Cause we need a little controversy,
    ‘Cause it feels so empty without GC

    Little hellions – public feeling rebellious
    embarrassed, NZ still employs Judith
    NZ’s Public starts feeling like prisoners, helpless,
    ’til GC comes along on a mission and yells “bitch~!!!”

  12. Marty 12

    Judith should be a gang leader. She’s certainly brutal enough.

  13. john 13

    What an amazing statement from Judith Collins who is a barrister and her duty is to not mislead a court and here she is saying it is ok to use false warrants. Maybe the standards committee should look at her statement as she is also bagging a Judge

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