I watched a TV debate last evening (‘The Vote’). The topic was whether NZers are losing confidence in our Police.
Several issues were raised on both sides: (my paraphrasing)
The pro-side (including 2 lawyers & an ex-MP) :
1) Pictures of bruised & bleeding faces(including a teenage girl), showing documented cases of ‘Police Brutality’
2) A senior officer who stated that ‘a ten year old girl was a willing participant in sexual assault’
3) Several recent cases of Police DEALING Illegal Drugs
4) One of the debaters said she & others, feared speaking out.. for fear of retribution
5) Only 15% of robberies were ever solved.. many went unreported for this reason
6) There is a Police Culture that covers up bad behavior, corruption & illegal activity (including illegal Drug use & dealing)
7) Many allegations & evidence of Police ‘planting evidence’ to secure a conviction.. including in Murder cases (some have been overturned recently, by the Privy council)
The Anti-side (including; the head of Police union & a crown prosecutor) stated:
1) Official stats. show overall crime has dropped
2) The Union boss said that the Officer mentioned above (sexual assault case) will be disciplined, BUT should not lose his job.
3) Only a very small number of Police were brought before an INTERNAL disciplinary panel
4) The majority of Police are ‘building relationships’ & ‘doing a good job’
5) Any perceived ‘Police culture’ was overstated & mostly a ‘thing of the past’
As a side issue, this is the same Police Union boss who stated in a TV interview a while ago, that he supported wide-spread ‘drug testing’ but NOT for Police officers (‘the public need to trust us’).. there have been rumors for years that illegal drug use is widespread (especially amongst the younger officers) but a perception that they are somehow ‘above the law’ on this issue ? It is also public knowledge that there is a ‘culture’ of heavy alcohol use.
After the debate they had a studio audience poll that showed a majority did not support the issue & think Police are trusted.. BUT when the final poll was announced (TV show audience via internet/face-book etc) it showed 56% supported the idea ‘the public ARE losing trust in NZ Police‘. Further they had another poll as to whether the public supported the Police being armed. The result was : 61% AGAINST.. I believe a majority of Police DO support being armed ?!
Just to highlight something : only 15% of robberies/thefts are solved.. yet NZ has amongst the highest arrested/prosecution rates for illegal drugs (mostly cannabis) in the ‘western world’. Is this showing something about the unbalanced Police priorities ?