17 October 2013 - Good morning everyone. I’d like to begin today by explaining that this is an informational press conference and that I won’t be taking questions at its conclusion.
As you will appreciate the report’s findings are the result of a very thorough and detailed investigation by the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the report therefore, speaks for itself.
Before we get into the details of the report I think it’s important to outline the role of the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
The Authority is an independent oversight body that receives complaints against the Police and either investigates these complaints itself, or oversees and reviews the Police investigation of them.
The incident considered in this report concerns the Police response to a call from a partygoer around midnight on 4 September 2009 concerned about the behaviour of gatecrashers to a party at a private residence on Homebush Road, Khandallah, Wellington.
In the months following the closure of the party the Authority received ten complaints from partygoers about the actions of Police, the nature of which ranged from Police forcing entry to the house, to allegations that Tactical Policing Unit officers used batons to strike people at the party and forcibly removed them from the house by pushing, shoving and manhandling them.
The Authority reviewed and analysed the entire Police file relating to closure of the party in order to properly examine and determine the individual complaints. It also conducted its own investigation by interviewing complainants, witnesses and Police.
The Authority has found that the Police acted unlawfully by entering the residence without the consent of the occupiers, and without any lawful power to do so. In addition, the Authority found that Police had no authority to close down the party.
It has also found that, although some of the force may have been used in self-defence and therefore justified, other force was used for the purpose of unlawfully removing partygoers from the house and was therefore unjustified.
The Authority has also determined that on the balance of probabilities, a Tactical Policing Unit officer struck one of the partygoers with a baton resulting in a displaced fracture of the C7 spinous process, or a broken neck. This force was excessive and contrary to law. However, it was not possible for the Authority to make an unequivocal finding as to which Tactical Policing Unit officer was responsible.
The Authority also received two subsidiary complaints.
The first subsidiary complaint required the examination of unauthorised disclosure of the Police preliminary report which was sent by an office administrator at Police National Headquarters to a media outlet.
The Authority is satisfied that no one else was involved in posting the report to media and that the disclosure of the report was carried out in an effort to discredit a complainant. As the administrator had left the Police when this matter was discovered, no further action was taken by Police.
The second subsidiary complaint alleged that three Tactical Policing Unit officers had made false declarations about events on 5 September 2009. The Authority is satisfied that these three officers involved in shutting down the party did not deliberately lie or make false declarations in their job sheets and Briefs of Evidence as alleged.
The release of today’s report comes four years after the closure of the Homebush Road party. In concluding its investigation the Authority found Police’s failure to conduct a robust, thorough and timely investigation was unjustified, unreasonable and unfair.
Not only have the complainants waited over three years for an outcome, but the officers involved have also had this matter outstanding for the same amount of time which has affected them personally and in some cases professionally. Such a delay is inexcusable.
I acknowledge that the Authority has itself contributed to this delay. The Authority’s investigation has not been timely and it has been unnecessarily delayed due to a number of factors, including the Authority deciding to wait for Police to conclude its criminal investigation before undertaking interviews of Tactical Policing Unit officers.
The Authority has recently changed its processes to address this issue and ensure that it completes investigations more quickly than it has done in the past.
As a result of this incident, and others reported to the Authority concerning Police actions when dealing with parties on private property, the Authority notes that the way in which Police should deal with private parties, considered to be out of control, needs to be reviewed.
The Authority has begun discussions with Police around these issues and Police are in the process of drafting policy to comprehensively address these matters.
I am pleased to be able to present you with this report today.
A copy of this address will be available for you to collect from my Communications Advisor on your way out.
Thank you for your time this morning.