An Independent Police Conduct Authority report released today has found a number of significant deficiencies in the original Police investigations into the alleged offending by a group of young men in Auckland who called themselves the ‘Roastbusters’.
Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers, said the officers investigating these matters tended to approach each case on an individual, case-by-case, basis simply to consider whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the offenders for sexual violation.
“In the Authority’s view the officers should have identified the connections between the various cases and worked with other agencies to develop strategies to reduce the recurrence of what was clearly unacceptable and, in some cases, criminal behaviour. Victims were let down by their failure to do so,” Sir David said.
In November 2013 the Authority received a number of complaints relating to the ‘Roastbusters’. As a result the Authority began independently investigating two aspects of Police actions. The first aspect, which the Authority publicly reported on in May 2014, considered the information provided by Police to the media concerning Police involvement in these matters. The second, which is outlined in today’s report, considered the adequacy of the initial Police criminal investigations and the handling of any complaints or reports received by Police from members of the public between 2011 and October 2013.
In November 2013 Police informed the Authority that between 2011 and early 2013 they received reports of four separate incidents relating to the ‘Roastbusters’. During its investigation the Authority identified that Police also responded to an additional three reports of concern involving young women and this group of young men. The Authority therefore investigated a total of seven matters to determine whether there was any Police misconduct or any failure of Police practice, policy or procedure in their handling of them. This involved interviewing officers, reviewing Police files and any additional relevant documents, and accessing records held by CYF in relation to each of the cases.
In releasing today’s report Independent Police Conduct Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers said in a number of cases there were deficiencies in the investigation practices, including a failure to follow up and pursue positive lines of enquiry.
“The supervisory oversight of the individual cases was inadequate and the investigating staff failed to properly consider all available offences in determining whether or not to prosecute the young men,” Sir David said.
“The Authority found that all of the Police officers involved treated the young women and their families with courtesy and compassion and maintained good contact with them.
“However, the officers' contact and interaction with the young men who were the subjects of the investigations and their families was inadequate or non-existent. The failure of Police to make contact meant the young men’s parents were never made aware of several of the incidents and details of their sons’ involvement and therefore they were unable to intervene or act to address the behaviour.”
“Despite the failings in this case, the Authority has not found any evidence of ongoing and widespread poor practice nationally in the Police investigation or prosecution of child abuse or sexual assault cases.
“Police in Waitemata have introduced a number of safeguards by way of better supervision and oversight of cases, and better liaison with CYF, to reduce the likelihood of a recurrence of the deficiencies identified in this case.
“The Authority has recommended that an audit be carried out by the National Manager Adult Sexual Assault/Child Protection into the current cases being investigated by the Waitemata Child Protection Team to determine whether any individual shortcomings still exist,” Sir David said.
“It has also recommended that the Police review whether any other practice or policy issues need to be addressed, either nationally or in Waitemata, and in particular whether more emphasis is required on prevention.
“The Authority has asked the Police to advise it of the outcome of their audit and review, and any subsequent action the Police intend to take as a consequence.”