8 Apr 2003

Cook Islands police minister asks for changes to police force

4:51 pm on 8 April 2003

The Cook Islands police minister, Tangata Vavia, says he's asking the police force to make changes and improve its performance following public concerns about its lack of action over a serious accident.

No charges were no laid against a former Air New Zealand manager, Ron De Groot, who crashed his car into the back of another vehicle last year, seriously injuring the woman inside.

Mr Vavia says he's held one meeting with the police commissioner, Pera Wichman, to express his concerns and it's likely that charges will now be laid.

"I'm hoping that they'll take the proper course of action. They can lay charges if they want to ...,.they're convinced that they have the evidence and whether they will bring Mr De Groot back for prosecution or not I'm not sure."

The police had said there was insufficient evidence to charge Mr de Groot but after the ombudsman intervened, a review was held and further evidence and a key witness were uncovered.

Mr de Groot has since left the country and is now based in Tahiti.

The police minister says he expects changes to be made to the structure of the police force in order for it to increase its performance.