Police complaints investigated

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:00 14/02/2014

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Bad attitude or language, inadequate service and investigation failures are among the most common allegations levelled against police staff in the Central District.

Information released to the Manawatu Standard under the Official Information Act shows that Palmerston North bore the brunt of the 145 complaints made about police staff in the Central District between January and November 2013. Of the six police areas, including Central District Headquarters in Palmerston North's Cuba St, staff from Palmerston North catchment were subject to 74 complaints.

A further nine complaints were directed at staff from headquarters.

Investigations into 107 officers had been completed by the November date, with just five upheld.

A further 69 remained unresolved at that time.

One officer from the Palmerston North area had been stood down for a month while investigations continued, and another was suspended for nine months.

Complaints include those from the public, internal reports and Independent Police Complaints Authority Act reporting requirements.

Constables were at the heart of the vast majority of complaints, with 104, followed by sergeants, then senior sergeants and commissioned officers. Most allegations were about inadequate service, attitude or language, and investigation failures.

Palmerston North-based Central District commander Superintendent Russell Gibson has been under investigation by an independent lawyer since October last year after sending a convicted paedophile's wife a letter in 2012 describing an underage girl as a "willing party" to sexual abuse, which took place when she was between 10 and 12 years old. Robin Peter Abraham was convicted of the girl's rape and sentenced to 10 years' jail.

In 2013, Whanganui Constable Hayden Bradley resigned after he was found not guilty of corruption following a jury trial.

He was accused of attempting to get sexual favours from a woman in return for not prosecuting her for disqualified driving. The allegations arose in 2012, and he was suspended from duty for 16 months.

Among the upheld investigations was an allegation of sexual misconduct. Three people were given counselling, one performance management, and one retired during the investigation process.

Expressions of dissatisfaction - which are not investigated by Professional Standards but are forwarded directly to the relevant district, area or department - numbered 157 for the district since reporting began in 2012.

Central District Professional Standards manager Acting Inspector Sue O'Neil said the nature of police work and the amount of contact police had with the public meant it was inevitable that some complaints would be made and expectations not met.

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Police had a "robust and thorough" internal investigation process that aimed to resolve complaints in a timely manner.

"We are not afraid to hold our own to account and we will continue to work hard to provide a professional service to the New Zealand public."

Annually, police received more letters of praise than complaints and enjoyed a "level of public trust and confidence that is higher than any other police service worldwide".

- Manawatu Standard

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