web analytics

Why you don’t give the State too much power

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, June 22nd, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: police - Tags: ,

The Right usually argues for limited government. They fear unaccountably state agents abusing their power. It’s a justified fear. All power tends to be abused unless you have strong checks on it. Both Left and Right can usually agree on the need to keep an eye on those who are trusted with power.

But the Right seems to have a blind spot when it comes to the Police. They tend to just heap powers on the Police and trust that nothing will go wrong, despite the Police being renowned for abusing their powers. That’s what’s happening with the new DNA power. No Right Turn sums it up:

In New Zealand, they’ve recently gained the power to forcibly take DNA from anyone arrested, even if they are subsequently acquitted. But even that isn’t enough – and so our police have gone fishing. A few years ago they were harassing teenagers in routine traffic stops, demanding DNA swabs in exchange for letting them go. Now they’re intimidating Maori kids, using fear and lies to extract samples:

“I’ve heard of a few cases where young Maori have been conned by police into giving DNA samples even when they haven’t committed a crime. One young Maori told me the police wanted the sample because one of their relatives might be known to police. “Another told me the police wanted the sample in case the rangatahi got killed and the police needed to identify them.”

Harawira argues that approaching children to give DNA without their parent’s consent is outside police guidelines. its worse than that – it’s flat-out illegal. The law is very clear on this: section 30 of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995 says that

Nothing in section 30 of this Act [which specifies the administrative procedure for gaining samples by consent – I/S] applies in respect of a person who is under the age of 17 years, and no such person shall be capable of consenting to the taking of a bodily sample in response to a request made under that section.

If Harawira is correct, the police have been systematically breaking the law. And every officer who has taken such a sample is guilty of contravention of statute and liable for imprisonment for one year.

The completely unconcerned attitude of the Police hierarchy to these allegations is worrying but, unfortunately, typical. The Police should never have been given the power to take DNA off people at such a low threshold. It should be handled by an independent group and only on conviction. Letting the Police take DNA off anyone they arrest gives them too much incentive to bend the rules, and that seems to be happening.

30 comments on “Why you don’t give the State too much power ”

  1. Good on Harawira for raising this issue. He is a really effective opposition MP …

  2. swimmer 2

    I suppose not much is going to happen to these officers as long as no one is holding them to account. I haven’t heard any stories on this issue!

  3. WOOF 3

    Why that just gets me hot under the collar!

  4. PK 4

    ***In New Zealand, they’ve recently gained the power to forcibly take DNA from anyone arrested, even if they are subsequently acquitted. But even that isn’t enough and so our police have gone fishing. ***

    To avoid harrassing people in this manner it would be easier & more consistent to have a routine collection at birth, which could be re-checked from time to time. Obviously the database would have to be managed by an independent body. Hopefully it would lead to a better crime clearance rate.

    • Pascal's bookie 4.1

      They could implant a GPS tracking chip thingie at the same time. If you’ve nothing to hide, you’ve nothing to fear, etc.

      • American Gardener 4.1.1

        I imagine the resources required for microchipping & GPS tracking would be massive though perhaps it could piggyback on the existing cellular networks. Being able to identify who was in the vicinity of a crime scene during the window of occurrence would I imagine be a very useful tool. Would it be a deterrent to crime however ? I suspect not but it would simplify the apprehension of the offenders.

    • Bright Red 4.2

      Pk. That is exactly the kind of huge power that the State doesn’t need and the only real control on it is ‘trust us’. Imagine the ability to pry into your life the government would get if it had everyone’s DNA on file. The scope for abuse is massive.

    • it would be easier & more consistent to have a routine collection at birth

      They already do, but its not used by police, and not typically made available for DNA analysis

  5. sally 5

    Of course, Crusher Collins and Howard Broad has failed completely to address the substance of Hone’s comments, just focusing on the (perhaps ill-thought-out) comments about them being Nazis…

  6. deemac 6

    not a fashionable POV but I agree with PK; lets collect it routinely at birth (or on entry into the country for immigrants like me) – by a separate organisation, NOT the police. Much preferable to active surveillance like ID cards, CCTV etc which we will otherwise be pressurised into adopting in the near future.

  7. just saying 7

    And who, exactly, would appoint this “separate organisation”? not to mention who would police it?

    Nothing to hide- nothing to fear is a very dangerous fairytale.

    It’s cases like this that highlight how pathetic our Human Rights and Privacy Commissions are.

    Has the opposition had anything to say about this?

  8. Sanctuary 8

    What about giving the police the power to seize private property “on the balance of probability” test that it is the result of criminal proceeds?

    Sold to us as a “get tough on gangs measure” this new power has resulted in significant police resource being squandered on what the police themselves admit are seen as profitable low hanging fruit. So we’ve got the NZ Police basically admitting to a sorry tale of state revenue grabbing by legal terror. So far, its victims seem not to be the gangs but a garden chain and numerous small landholders who have had the temerity to fall foul of the law by growing some marijuana.

  9. American Gardener 9

    Taking DNA at birth or micro-chipping is a completely unacceptable dystopian nightmare.

    I can see how it could reduce the crime rate and make solving crimes much easier but the loss off freedom is not worth it. Collecting DNA could be used to discriminate on the basis of propensity for genetic disorders.

  10. When did the Police gain this power and what were the various parties’ voting records on it?

    @Sanctuary is right on asset forfeiture: only the Greens and Maori made a stand against that nightmare – Greens very likely because Nandor Tanczos understood how asset forfeiture works in the US.

    Shame there’s nobody in Parliament making much of a stand on civil liberties these days.

  11. Rex Widerstrom 12

    its worse than that it’s flat-out illegal… The completely unconcerned attitude of the Police hierarchy to these allegations is worrying but, unfortunately, typical.

    Private prosecution, anyone? If you’ve had your DNA taken illegally I’m sure there’s a few legal beagles who’d consider helping you with a pro bono prosecution of the Plods responsible. I’d chip in with some work and a bit of cash. Anyone?

    • Bored 12.1

      Rex, you might have opened a can of worms…scanario: I get detained and not charged, and police “request” DNA….later the DNA gets used to arrest me for some other offense. In Court I claim the Police took the DNA under duress and therefore had no right to it, nor to arrest me as a consequence (i.e that their evidence was not legally obtained therefore impermissible). Any legal types out there care to comment?

    • swimmer 13.1

      Oh that does invade your privacy and could even lead to some people being discriminated against for sharing the DNA of a crook.

      I see the commenter with the best name I’ve ever read is on that thread: Anonymous Coward 🙂

  12. just saying 14

    Just saw Goff’s response to this issue on Te Karere.

    He complained about Harawira casting aspersions on the police force in comparing these actions with nazi behaviour. That’s it – his whole response.

    Goff Must Go!!!!!!!!!

  13. Jenny 15

    Giving DNA to the police would give the police the opportunity to place that DNA where ever they liked. As the prosecution of Arthur Allen Thomas proved it would be like the police having an empty shell case of yours, to plant where ever they saw fit, and we the public trusting that the police in every circumstance would never place it somewhere, where it would incriminate an innocent person.

    What makes this worse is that the police haven’t admitted or denied that they have been gathering DNA in the way alleged by Harawira. This secrecy increases the risk of misuse.

    This abuse could have the opposite affect than that intended, by discrediting the use of DNA evidence.

    • swimmer 15.1

      Agreed. They also have no mandate to allow this to happen, there should be a referendum on this kind of thing. Not that they will listen.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • NZ announces a third P-3 deployment in support of UN sanctions
    The Government has deployed a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion (P-3) maritime patrol aircraft to support the implementation of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions imposing sanctions against North Korea, announced Minister of Foreign Affairs Winston Peters and Minister of Defence Ron Mark. “New Zealand has long supported ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Pacific trade and development agreement a reality
    Pacific regional trade and development agreement PACER Plus will enter into force in 60 days now that the required eight countries have ratified it. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker welcomed the announcement that the Cook Islands is the eighth nation to ratify this landmark agreement. “The agreement represents ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Securing a pipeline of teachers
    The Government is changing its approach to teacher recruitment as COVID-19 travel restrictions continue, by boosting a range of initiatives to get more Kiwis into teaching. “When we came into Government, we were faced with a teacher supply crisis,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “Over the past three years, we ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Border exceptions for a small number of international students with visas
    The Government has established a new category that will allow 250 international PhD and postgraduate students to enter New Zealand and continue their studies, in the latest set of border exceptions. “The health, safety and wellbeing of people in New Zealand remains the Government’s top priority. Tight border restrictions remain ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • First COVID-19 vaccine purchase agreement signed
    The Government has signed an agreement to purchase 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines – enough for 750,000 people – from Pfizer and BioNTech, subject to the vaccine successfully completing all clinical trials and passing regulatory approvals in New Zealand, say Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods and Health Minister Chris Hipkins. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • International statement – End-to-end encryption and public safety
    We, the undersigned, support strong encryption, which plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security.  It also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people, as stated in the 2017 resolution of the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Ministry of Defence Biodefence Assessment released
    The Ministry of Defence has today released a Defence Assessment examining Defence’s role across the spectrum of biological hazards and threats facing New Zealand. Biodefence: Preparing for a New Era of Biological Hazards and Threats looks at how the NZDF supports other agencies’ biodefence activities, and considers the context of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020
    New Approaches to Economic Challenges: Confronting Planetary Emergencies: OECD 9 October 2020 Hon David Parker’s response following Thomas Piketty and Esther Duflo. Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, wherever in the world you might be. I first acknowledge the excellent thought provoking speeches of Thomas Piketty and Esther ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Kaipara Moana restoration takes next step
    A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed today at Waihāua Marae between the Crown, local iwi and councils to protect, restore and enhance the mauri of Kaipara Moana in Northland. Environment Minister David Parker signed the document on behalf of the Crown along with representatives from Ngā Maunga Whakahī, Ngāti ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Zealand and Uruguay unite on reducing livestock production emissions
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Uruguayan Minister of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries Carlos María Uriarte have welcomed the launch of a three-year project that will underpin sustainable livestock production in Uruguay, Argentina, and Costa Rica.  The project called ‘Innovation for pasture management’ is led by Uruguay’s National Institute of Agricultural ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • 3100 jobs created through marae upgrades
    Hundreds of marae throughout the country will be upgraded through investments from the Provincial Growth Fund’s refocused post COVID-19 funding to create jobs and put money into the pockets of local tradespeople and businesses, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta have announced. “A total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Health volunteers recognised in annual awards
    Health Minister Chris Hipkins has announced 9 teams and 14 individuals are the recipients of this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.  “The health volunteer awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other New Zealanders,” Mr Hipkins ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community COVID-19 Fund supports Pacific recovery
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says a total of 264 groups and individuals have successfully applied for the Pacific Aotearoa Community COVID-19 Recovery Fund, that will support Pacific communities drive their own COVID-19 recovery strategies, initiatives, and actions. “I am keen to see this Fund support Pacific ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Community benefits from Māori apprenticeships
    Up to 50 Māori apprentices in Wellington will receive paid training to build houses for their local communities, thanks to a $2.75 million investment from the Māori Trades and Training Fund, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Ngāti Toa Rangatira Incorporated to provide its Ngā Kaimahi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Training fund supports Māori jobseekers
    Rapidly growing sectors will benefit from a $990,000 Māori Trades and Training Fund investment which will see Wellington jobseekers supported into work, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “This funding will enable Sapphire Consultants Ltd. to help up to 45 Māori jobseekers into paid training initiatives over two years through ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruakura Inland Port development vital infrastructure for Waikato
    The Government is investing $40 million to develop an inland port at Ruakura which will become a freight super-hub and a future business, research and residential development for the Waikato, Urban Development and Transport Minister Phil Twyford, and Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced today. The funding has been has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Appointments made to Defence Expert Review Group
    Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today the establishment of an Expert Review Group to review a number of aspects of the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF) structure, information management and record-keeping processes.  The Expert Review Group’s work arises out of the first recommendation from the Report of the Government’s Inquiry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • No active community cases of COVID-19
    There are no active community cases of COVID-19 remaining in the country after the last people from the recent outbreak have recovered from the virus, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “This is a big milestone. New Zealanders have once again through their collective actions squashed the virus. The systems ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Clean energy upgrade for more public buildings
    More public buildings will be supported by the Government to upgrade to run on clean energy, the Minister for Climate Change James Shaw announced today. Minister Shaw announced that Lincoln and Auckland universities will receive support through the Clean-Powered Public Service Fund to replace fossil fuel boilers. Southern, Taranaki, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Schools back donations scheme for the second year
    More schools have opted in to the donations scheme for 2021, compared to 2020 when the scheme was introduced. “The families of more than 447,000 students will be better off next year, with 94% of eligible schools and kura opting into the scheme,” Education Minister Chris Hipkins said. “This is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Ruapehu cycle trails gets PGF boost
    The spectacular Mountains to Sea cycle trail in Ruapehu District will receive $4.6 million in funding from the Provincial Growth Fund for two additional trails, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This is an exciting development for the local community, and one that will provide significant economic opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Update to air border order strengthens crew requirements
    Additional measures coming into effect on Monday will boost our defence against COVID-19 entering New Zealand through the air border, Health Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “As part of our precautionary approach and strategy of constant review, we’re tightening the requirements around international aircrew,” Chris Hipkins said. The COVID-19 Public ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • A true picture of Māori business activity
    A better picture of the contribution Māori businesses make to the economy will be possible with changes to the way information is collected about companies and trading enterprises. Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta and Small Business Minister Stuart Nash have announced a new option for Māori enterprises who are part ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • PGF funding for Taranaki projects
    The South Taranaki museum, a New Plymouth distillery and a Pasifika building firm will benefit from a Government investment totalling more than $1 million, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says. The $1.05m in grants and loans from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will help the recipients expand and create ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Fijian Language Week 2020 inspires courage and strength during COVID-19 pandemic
    The Minister for Pacific Peoples, Aupito William Sio says the theme for the 2020 Fijian Language Week reflects the strong belief by Fijians that their language and culture inspires courage and strength that is strongly needed in times of emergencies, or through a significant challenge like the global COVID-19 pandemic ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Trades training builds on iwi aspirations
    An investment of $2.025 million from the Māori Trades and Training Fund will support Māori to learn new skills while making a positive difference for their communities, announced Employment Minister Willie Jackson today. “K3 Development Limited Partnership will receive $2,025,000 for its Takitimu Tuanui apprenticeship programme, which will support the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Conservation Minister plants two millionth tree in Raglan restoration
    A long-term conservation project led by the Whaingaroa Harbour Care group in the western Waikato reaches a significant milestone this week, with the planting of the two millionth tree by the Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage. “Planting the two millionth tree crowns 25 years of commitment and partnership involving Whaingaroa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago
  • Seniors – our parents and grandparents
    International Older Persons Day is a chance to think about the individual older New Zealanders we know and to confront ageism, Seniors Minister Tracey Martin said today. “What happened around COVID-19 is a reminder that our over-65s are a very large and diverse group of people and we need to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 weeks ago