Police have received a rebuke from the government's watchdog over a lack of progress on conduct.
A report published today is the third from the Office of the Auditor-General on how well police have responded to a 2007 Commission of Inquiry, ordered after a series of sexual allegations against senior officers.
Deputy Auditor General Phillippa Smith says police risk denting public trust and confidence because of ''mixed progress.''
''Significant leadership challenges'' still exists and most of the COI's recommendations are still to be completed, she notes. A recommendation to improve services for adult sexual assault complainants has been met with ''mixed but relatively poor progress.''
''There is still an unacceptable, although low, level of inappropriate behaviour of a sexual nature, harassment, some staff being reluctant to report wrongdoing because of the perceived way colleagues were treated when they did, and slow change in the gender and ethnic composition of the Police.''
Activities relating to complaints against the police also saw ''mixed progress,'' she said.
Police need to be ''receptive to outside scrutiny.''
However, she found ''elements'' of good progress in ''organisational change'' and ''some progress'' to improve police behaviour.
There is a ''slow'' increase in the number of women in the service - increasing from 14.9 per cent to 17.6 per cent since 2006.
There are more younger women, but fewer in the senior ranks.
Smith recommends police give sex assault investigation work ''necessary atention'' and more resources, and have all relevant staff given specialist training by the end of the year.
She says they must sort out an agreement for a Sexual Abuse Assessment and Treatment Service in South Canterbury.
Police should also focus on making sure misconduct is not tolerated.
Acting Commissioner Viv Rickard said police acknowledge ''they still have work to do'' - but he believes they are making ''reasonable progress.''
"We have made huge progress in some areas, particularly around the Code of Conduct, our disciplinary processes, and in reinforcing the standards of behaviour required by our staff,'' he said.
"The change envisaged by the COI is significant, and while we accept that some things should be progressed more quickly, the scale of change needs to be seen against the wider environment we are operating in.''
More than 400 staff completed the specialist sexual assault courses between July 2010 and the end of August, which he said is a ''considerable achievement'' and all relevant staff will be trained by the end of the year.
Five districts have dedicated teams to deal with sex assaults.
"We are also seeking feedback from victims about their experience of our service and how we can improve it,'' he said.
An early intervention system to identify staff who show problem behaviour will be implemented soon.
"We are committed to dealing effectively with misconduct when it comes to light,'' he said.
The 2007 inquiry was sparked by Dominion Post investigations into police conduct.
The COI made 60 recommendations and the OAG will monitor progress over 10 years.
Early last year deputy commissioner Rob Pope quit after another damning report criticised a lack of progress.
Then-Commissioner Howard Broad, who has also left the service, described it as a ''huge slapping.''
- © Fairfax NZ News
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