7 May 2015

Pig-hunting police officers cleared

6:37 pm on 7 May 2015

The police watchdog has found two pig-hunting police officers who had two suspected poachers prosecuted did not act corruptly.

feral pig

Photo: Wellington Regional Council

However, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) said one of the officers did have a conflict of interest.

In 2013 two members of the public were spoken to and searched by the officers, one of them being off duty at the time.

Despite denying they were pig hunting the officers still seized their equipment and they were prosecuted for illegally hunting on private land.

The charges were later dismissed in court.

The men then made complaints to the Minister of Police and the Authority.

Their lawyers raised concerns that the officers conducted an unlawful search, abused their authority by issuing the trespass notice, and had an inappropriate employment relationship with local forestry companies.

The Authority received other complaints about the police and the trespass scheme.

The investigation also looked at the broader police conduct and conflict of interest issues raised by the complaints.

The Authority found that the police did not have sufficient evidence to justify issuing the men a blanket trespass notice.

However, it found no evidence that either of the officers acted in a corrupt manner while working in enforcement on Operation Poacher.

The Authority said the fact that the officers involved were recreational pig hunters caused some members of the local pig hunting community to point to the officers having a conflict of interest, and to question their motivation for law enforcement action undertaken on forestry land.

The Authority said the fact that one of the officers hunted while also policing unlawful activities on that land put him in a strong position on conflict and created the potential for abuse of authority.

The Authority recommended police review the trespass notices issued under the operation to ensure that sufficient evidence exists.

It also recommended amendment to current police policy relating to blanket trespass notices.

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