Top cop fronts over Roast Busters case

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 15:09 11/12/2013
Police Commissioner Peter Marshall
CRAIG SIMCOX

TOP COP: Police Commissioner Peter Marshall.

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Police handling of the Roast Busters case "should have been sharper", the police commissioner says.

Speaking at a parliamentary select committee in Wellington today, Commissioner Peter Marshall said police could have communicated better on the Roast Busters case.

Marshall appeared before the committee to represent police at a hearing on the 2012/13 New Zealand Police financial review - but talk quickly turned to the Roast Busters scandal.

"Certainly, the situation involving the initial response that there hadn't been a complaint and then we found there had been a complaint - not that that affected where we were at that stage - was something that we should have been sharper on in terms of communication," Marshall said.

Whether police deserved the criticism heaped upon them in the wake of the scandal would be the subject of an ongoing Independent Police Conduct Authority review, Marshall said after the hearing.

"We're yet to hear the IPCA's determination ... we're just focusing on the investigation that's currently under way."

The Roast Busters scandal drew criticism of police treatment of sex abuse victims after it emerged a group of youths had boasted on Facebook about having sex with drunk and underage girls.

Police had said no formal complaints had been received, which prevented them from taking action. It was later revealed a complaint had been made by one of the alleged victims.

Marshall's comments came after a survey released yesterday showed public trust in police was stronger than ever, but had dipped around the time of the Roast Busters scandal.

The survey of 9677 people showed public trust and confidence in police was at a high of 82 per cent in October.

A subsequent drop to 76 per cent coincided with the Roast Busters scandal and the conviction of police officer Gordon Meyer for sexual offending.

Marshall said that the high results were the "envy" of his colleagues overseas.

Police had led the investigation that landed Meyer in court, he said.

The previous years' figures also featured a dip in November and it would be difficult to conclusively point at the Roast Busters scandal as a reason for a change in public mood, Marshall said.

Prevention of sex offences remained a major focus for police.

"As commissioner I remain committed to a victim-focused culture in New Zealand police that supports vulnerable people in their time of need."

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- The Dominion Post

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