McVicar criticised over attack on police commissioner

Garth McVicar
Garth McVicar

A bitter spat has broken out after Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar called for the head of Police Commissioner Howard Broad.

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove this morning condemned McVicar for what he said amounted to a ''crass and insensitive attack'' on Broad.

Cosgrove said McVicar's attack, which was over comments about rethinking who is sent to prison, were unbelievable given what police were going through following the tragedy at the Pike River coal mine.

McVicar yesterday said Broad should resign immediately over his comments to MPs at parliament on Wednesday. At a select committee hearing, Broad indicated police were trying to prevent crime rather than focus solely on prosecuting.

At the hearing, Broad said there was a growing number of people wondering if sending more people to prison was ''the correct way to go'' and that the ''traditional model of policing'' had ''delivered an absolute wave of criminals'' in to the justice system.

McVicar said the comments were ''an utter disgrace''.

''Not only will the criminals be rejoicing, every victim and potential victim will be shaking their head in utter disbelief - as will most New Zealanders,'' McVicar said yesterday.

Broad's comments were ''an insult to victims of crime'' and showed he could inflict ''irreversible damage'' to the morale and good name of the police, McVicar said.

Cosgrove today said McVicar's comments were ''extreme'' and a bid for publicity.

McVicar could ''not hold his head up in the same company as the Commissioner,'' he said.

''Anything that even remotely challenges the sanctity of his [McVicar's] views cannot be tolerated,'' Cosgrove said.

''What makes me even angrier about Mr McVicar's savage attack on a fine police commissioner is that Mr McVicar is a hypocrite. He wrote a testimonial that helped former ACT MP David Garrett escape a conviction and get permanent name suppression for stealing a baby's identity.''

Kim Workman, Director of Rethinking Crime and Punishment, said McVicar's criticism of Broad was "both outrageous and unjustified".

"If Garth truly has the interests of victims at heart, he would learn that the preventive strategies advocated by the Commissioner will do more to reduce the number of victims in our community, than anything the Sensible Sentencing Trust's has done, with its constant call for vengeance and retribution," Workman said.