INDEPENDENT NEWS

Internal Police Report on Greymouth is Whitewash

Published: Tue 15 Oct 2002 04:08 PM
Internal Police Report on Greymouth is Whitewash
The police report into allegations of dysfunctional practices at the Greymouth Station are nothing but a carefully orchestrated whitewash, ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley said today.
"I am disappointed that the police chiefs seem more intent on sweeping their administrative inadequacies and failings under the carpet rather than confronting the issues raised.
"On January 22, I wrote to Police Minister George Hawkins outlining serious concerns that I had based on information passed to me by two whistle-blowing constables.
"Allegations of dysfunction at the Greymouth Station followed earlier problems where police officers, including the station head, were investigated for alleged inappropriate behaviour.
"The Pearce Report of 1999 slammed the operational procedures and activities of officers in the Greymouth Police Station. I subsequently sought assurances from the Commissioner of Police that the problems had been overcome and was assured that they had been. I was therefore most concerned when in late 2001 I received evidence to the contrary.
"It is clear that Stuart Grieve QC has been used to imply that the police report into their own operations is independent whereas analysis of the report clearly shows that it is not. Stuart Grieve makes the comments that his role did not involve making a determination on the merits of the various competing allegations and that he was merely ensuring that the investigation was carried out in a procedural way as opposed to endeavouring to determine the substantive issues. Stuart Grieve made no investigations whatsoever and spoke to no witnesses. He merely received the report of Superintendent Marshall.
"It is also of concern that the police refused to disclose relevant documents to the solicitor of the two whistle-blowing constables as outlined in page 3 of the report. The Police went further to instruct Stuart Grieve QC to proceed on the basis that disclosure matters had been dealt with properly and that any perceived shortcomings would be resolved by the appropriate Tribunal, at some subsequent time.
"The fact remains that two sworn police officers - constables Jeff Andrew and Nadine Thomas - were stood down on full-pay for over twelve months. They requested at the outset that they be transferred to Christchurch but this option was denied by the police. Finally at the end of the saga the police did transfer them to Christchurch, paid them substantial compensation and invoked a gagging clause to prevent them from talking to the media and revealing the substance of their compensation.
"These facts alone indicate substantial dysfunctionality and misallocation of precious taxpayers dollars by the police in Greymouth. It is an outrage to have two fit and able sworn officers stood down from all duties on full pay because of dysfunctional police administration.
"The President of the Police Association Greg O'Connor is very defensive on this issue and must be very careful that he does not harm the integrity of that Association by supporting the whitewash.
"I am very disappointed that the Minister and police chiefs would not agree to an independent inquiry and it is regrettable that the substantive issue of dyfunctionality has not been covered in the Report.
"Generally when compared with other jurisdictions, New Zealand has a very good police force that we can be proud of. The maintenance of confidence and integrity within the police force is critical, as is the maintenance of the public's perception of police operations.
"I believe it is very imprudent of the Commissioner and the Minister to refuse an independent inquiry and to allow the Police to investigate themselves. This is a recipe for a whitewashed report, and it does nothing to enhance the public's perception of police procedure," Mr Shirley said.

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