20 Mar 2015

Greens want police culture 'rebuild'

6:52 am on 20 March 2015

The Green Party wants an independent taskforce to change police culture because it says the police cannot be trusted to do the job themselves.

Green Party co leader Metiria Turei in question time.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

A damning report into the Police's handling of an investigation into an Auckland teenage sex ring found officers failed to adhere to the basic tenets of any form of criminal investigation.

The report, from the Independent Police Conduct Authority, recommended an audit into current cases being investigated by Waitemata Child Protection Team to see if any individual shortcomings still exist.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said a task-force should also be set up to shift police attitudes towards the victims of child abuse and sexual violence.

"We have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the police are not capable of making the changes themselves, and they can't be trusted to take seriously the complaints of sexual violence victims in every case."

Mrs Turei said public trust in the police has been completely destroyed.

"Right now the parents of young women will be rightly concerned about who do they go to for help with their daughter, who do the parents of young men go to if they think there is a problem with their sons.

"There is no confidence now that the police is the right agency: that has to be rebuilt."

Minister of Police Michael Woodhouse was clearly not impressed with the police's handling of the case.

He was asked if the public can have faith in the police.

"Look, I think so, but it's an understandable question.

"What I want to know is whether this is a systemic failure or the failure of individuals, now the IPCA has said this is individual failure and a disappointing exception to a general trend where police have been taking these kinds of complaints very seriously."

Labour's Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern said there was also a complete breakdown in communication between Police and Child, Youth and Family.

"In fact there was, as I recall, only one individual that was followed up by CYF - that just isn't right as well, so multiple areas where government ministers should be following up with their departments."

And that's exactly what the Social Development Minister, Anne Tolley, is doing.

She has ordered a report into CYF's failings in the context of the teenage sex ring.

"The chief social worker will go in and review all the practice of all the involvement by the CYF staff in the various offices, through the complaints they received and the work that they did as part of the [Child Protection Team]"

Ms Tolley said she expected the report back in about three months.

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