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IPCA report finds fault in Police detention of women and children

30 July 2015 - An Independent Police Conduct Authority report released today has found that Police unlawfully detained two women and three young children following an armed response which developed from the attempted arrest of a male in Mangere on the evening of 7 November 2013.

Police were called to the house to arrest the man following a report that he had breached his home detention conditions.  A short time after the three officers arrived at the house a violent confrontation developed between the family members and the officers. The father of the man Police were attempting to arrest then presented what Police believed to be a shotgun. Fearing for his life, one of the officers drew his Glock while appealing to the man to drop the gun. Instead, the man raised what the officer thought was the barrel of a shotgun at which point the officer fired a shot at the man. The shot missed and the man fled the scene.

Following this the Armed Offenders Squad was called and at around 7:40pm they arrived outside the house. They used a loud hailer to order the occupants, including the two women and three young children, to walk away from the property one by one at gunpoint. The men were required to lie face down on the grass. The women were briefly questioned, then told to sit in the back of Police vehicles with their children before they were taken to the command area established by Police.

Upon arrival the women received no explanation about their rights and options. They believed that they were required to stay in the Police vehicles with their children.  After about an hour the older children were picked up by a family member, and the two women, with a baby were taken to the Police station to be interviewed.

In releasing today’s report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said that the Authority found that the Officer was justified in shooting at one of the men who had deliberately presented what looked like a long-barrelled firearm. However, the way Police treated the two women caused them to believe they had been detained and were not free to go. Police had determined the women were not connected to the offending and as such had no lawful justification for detaining the women for the length of time that they did.

“The Authority also found that the senior officer at the command area did not adequately exercise leadership and control of the staff and other resources available to him.

“It is the Authority’s view that Police gave very little consideration to the women and children.  Police were not proactive in explaining to the women their rights and options. There were plenty of senior Police officers at the command area who, due to their experience, should have ensured that the officers were proactive in explaining to the women what their rights were at the command area and later when they were interviewed.

“It is essential that Police turn their mind to the practicalities of the duty of care they have towards vulnerable people who are inadvertently caught up in critical incidents such as this,” Sir David said.

Following this investigation the Authority has recommended that Police amend their policy to ensure Police clearly inform people whether or not they are detained and the reasons for that.

Media contact: Corporate and Communications Manager, Stacey Smith: 021 585 771

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