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4th December 2002
A jury took just three hours this afternoon to find Senior Constable Keith Abbott not guilty of the murder of Waitara resident Steven Wallace.
Abbott shot Wallace in the early hours of April 30th 2000. The jury accepted that in doing so he acted in self defence
Matthew Ridge arrested again 22.11.2002
Television presenter and former league star Matthew Ridge was arrested after an incident at a police checkpoint on Auckland's Tamaki Drive early yesterday.
Auckland police spokeswoman Andi Brotherston said a 34-year-old man had been charged with "failing to accompany", but would not confirm it was Ridge.
The Herald understands Ridge parked his car before being stopped at the checkpoint, got out and tried to avoid police officers. He was pursued and caught, and it is understood pepper spray was used to subdue him. He will appear in Auckland District Court next week.
Ridge is also due to defend a charge of driving outside the hours of a limited licence, after being pulled over in Auckland in August.
Source: 25 May 2001, Waikato Times (Hamilton), The Press (Christchurch)
Two female students say they were strip-searched after being arrested for drawing with chalk in Hamilton's Garden Place.
University of Waikato students Rayna Fahey, 21, and Kelly Tudhope, 21, appeared in Hamilton District Court yesterday charged with wilful damage.
Police caught them writing Happy J Day, and drawing a smiley face and a peace symbol on the pavement on May 5.
But the women have denied the wilful damage charges and were remanded at large by community magistrates Rae Brooker and Garry Moltzen until a status hearing on July 20. Miss Fahey was also discharged without conviction for possession of cannabis, a charge which arose out of the same incident. Miss Tudhope said outside the court they told the police they would wash the chalk off, but were arrested anyway.
The girls say they were separated, strip-searched, and kept in police custody for four hours. "They (the police) told me they were searching for weapons," said Miss Tudhope.
Senior Sergeant Dave Simes said he could not comment on the case because it was still before the court. A police summary of facts said $50 reparation was being sought from Miss Tudhope for waterblasting the chalk off the concrete.
"We don't believe that, because it rained," said Miss Tudhope.
She and Miss Fahey were at Garden Place to celebrate J Day, an event which marks pro-choice use of marijuana. The event was cancelled because of rain and will now be held on June 2.
A council permit to use chalk in Garden Place was obtained for the occasion.
Barrister Roger Laybourn said the case raised important issues of freedom of expression which is guaranteed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights
We can do it with continual use of the "Letters to the
Editor" pages of magazines and newspapers.
If a constant barrage of letters can be kept up, slowly public opinion will change, and with it, political opinion will change
GET WRITING PEOPLE
These letters have been published by papers in the Auckland area:
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH
By now we have all most probably been stopped to have our travel papers checked by the State Police. (Doesn’t that take us back to Germany in the 1940s?)
On Saturday afternoon I travelled the six kilometres from the Pacific Plaza to Orewa and passed 7 marked police cars. This works out at an average of less than one police car per 1000 meters, most probably much less as there is bound to be unmarked cars in the area as well. This concentration of police is not even seen in the recognised high crime areas of Auckland, and can only mean that the Hibiscus Coast is an extremely unsafe place to live.
KEEP YOUR VOICE IN THE PUBLIC MEDIA
It's really important to keep the issues alive in the media. Every time you raise the issue in the media, it creates space for others to think, be informed and express their opinions too. And politicians always keep an eye on the media as it tells them whether communities are concerned about an issue or not. Contacting the written media and radio talk backs are 2 good community platforms, although I doubt that talk back radio would allow you to talk against the police.
WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Writing letters to the editor of your local paper is an extremely effective and very important way of having your voice heard. The more anti-police letters politicians see, the more they realise that the public doesn’t want to live in a "Police State". Your letters to the editor can take issue with or support a story in the paper or comment generally on problems with dealing with the police. Reputing a praising letter is also useful as it keeps the thread going but DO NOT make personal attacks. Humour or satire against an opposing point of view is effective.
Use double spacing for printed letters or faxes.
E-MAIL OR LETTER TO THE EDITOR
E-mail is extremely effective if commenting on a recent article as it quick enough to get the letter in front of the Editor while it is still news. Letters, especially if they are short, are better if you are making a general comment because they can be used to fill out a column.
Kaukapakapa Hotel chef Trish Rowe says traffic policing in the area has bordered on harassment.
Publicans in Rodney District feel under siege from police after a rise in traffic law enforcement there.
They say patrols are being overzealous by setting up too many road blocks and spot breath-testing of drivers.
But police believe their increased presence in the past few months is just bringing Rodney into line with other parts of Auckland.
Publicans in the Kaukapakapa, Helensville and Riverhead areas northwest of Auckland say police have breath-tested patrons leaving their premises or, in one case, breath-tested patrons before they entered the bar.
Officers have also checked patrons' cars for warrants of fitness in hotel car parks.
The publicans say police "booze buses" wait for patrons to leave bars.
Bar manager Grant Mitcheson said that one night he was breathalysed four times in five minutes - twice by the same officer.
"We're finding our turnover has been down in the last two or three months but in the last two or three weeks the police have really been hammering the area."
Mr Mitcheson said the publicans in the area were responsible hosts.
"What we want to do is provide a place for our local people to come and enjoy themselves so they can party locally and go home safely."
Warkworth Inn manager Kelvin Lane said the number of police patrolling the roads was definitely up from a year ago.
The publican of the Kaukapakapa Hotel, who declined to be named, said police had positioned themselves outside the hotel or down the road two or three times a week for the past three months.
Last weekend, officers set up in the hotel's car park and breath-tested patrons as they left, he said.
Numbers in the hotel's restaurant had halved and total turnover had dropped by 15 per cent.
Kumeu Cellars owner Doug Johns said there was a perception that the area was getting more than its fair share of attention.
"We are getting flogged."
Another Rodney publican said hotels were being unfairly hit.
"Other places selling alcohol, like rugby clubs, are not getting the same treatment. People don't want to come to pubs any more because the police are setting up checkpoints just down the road."
Jackie Lepper, a teacher at the Kaukapakapa School, said more officers began to patrol the area as part of an initiative between police and the school to target drivers speeding through the township.
However, she described their presence over the past two months as very intensive.
"If I wasn't a teacher and worried about the speed through the area then I'd say they could be annoying some of the locals."
Dairy Flat resident Diane Rolland was pleased to see an increased police presence.
"People have noticed and it is working ... Drivers are slowing down."
Senior Sergeant Chris Thompson of Orewa agreed there was an increased police presence in Rodney, but said the resources for road traffic enforcement were previously limited.
"They are probably not used to the presence they are now seeing, but it is commonplace in other parts of Auckland."
An acting sergeant with the traffic alcohol group, Dave Smith, said a joint operation with the Waitakere-North Shore traffic groups, which included Rodney, aimed to discourage drink-driving, especially in the leadup to Christmas.
That was in line with other police districts, he said.
Rodney District Council spokesman Michael Briggs said it was the beginning of the holiday season and Rodney roads were notoriously dangerous.
The Auckland regional manager for the Land Transport Safety Authority, Peter Kippenberger, said the antidrink-driving message was getting through in urban areas but not so well in rural areas such as Waiuku, Tuakau and Kaukapakapa.
At the Brian Boru Hotel in Thames, a strong police presence was welcome. Manager Marcus Topine said a police car usually passed very half hour.
"We love seeing them ... They're here to look after us."
Regular patron William Peters agreed, saying they were doing a good job..
Waipu Hotel manager Dianne Clyde said the police were around every night. "The police station is only a few doors away ... We run people home."
The shooting of Steven Wallace in Waitara has put the spotlight on the police. What has come out are some revealing facts on the actions of the police and evidence of brutality and racism in the force. Locals told of police called to a hui over treaty claims, turning up with firearms in their cars. One woman said when she questioned procedure while being breath-tested she ended up being stripped and subjected to an internal cavity search by police. Race Conciliator Dr Rajen Prasad heard similar stories when he visited the town. ‘We don’t have a racism problem in Waitara’, he was told, ‘we just have a problem with the police and the way they treat us as Maori’. (New Zealand Herald 15 May 2000).
Police tried to deny the accusations of racism but the evidence is too compelling for their protests to be convincing. In the last issue of The Spark, which went to press just a few days after the shooting, we pointed to the long history of racist treatment dished out to Maori by the ‘justice’ system and how the problem was not confined to Waitara.
The Commissioner of Police has announced a crackdown on racist police officers, after a disturbing report showed one in four officers believe their colleagues have racist attitudes towards Maori.
A significantly higher number of Maori police officers believed their colleagues were racist, the study found.
Commissioner Peter Doone said the force would have a zero tolerance approach towards racism. It was totally unacceptable.
He made his comments in response to a survey conducted on behalf of the police by Victoria University's criminology department. The survey showed racist attitudes were particularly prevalent among middle management in the force.
The study, Police Perceptions of Maori, was conducted in 1997 and involved a postal survey of 1000 police officers.
Mr Doone said: "It is completely unacceptable today for any police officer to harbour or display such attitudes. For the police to be viewed as racist completely undermines what we as an organisation stand for and are trying to achieve.
"Everyone is equal under the law, and police have a duty to enforce the law without fear or favour. I will not tolerate such attitudes."
The national manager of cultural affairs at police headquarters, Superintendent Pieri Munro, said strategies had been put in place to change the attitudes. The onus was also on Maori to have better dialogue with the police.
"The key points to those strategies has been training and cultural awareness. We need to make sure that those with [racist] attitudes are made aware that they are not welcome," he said.
"But it has to be a two-way street. Maori outside the organisation have to change their attitudes towards the police, by sitting down at the table and talking with them."
In July the Waikato district police manager, Detective Inspector Clint Rickards, hit out at the attitude of some of his colleagues.
"Police have to stop seeing Maori only as offenders if they want to establish any kind of relationship with them," he said.
Mr Rickards said that over the past few years some attitudes had changed but not enough to ensure confidence among Maori.
"It's middle management where a lot of the problem is. Senior management and lower management in the main have made a commitment to establish a good relationship with Maori."
Mr Munro said there was some justification for the figures on racism.
"But it is not a losing war, the writing is on the wall for officers who can't or won't change their attitudes."
Fundamentally racism is a class issue. The police are a part of the capitalist state machine, which in a class-divided society is charged with maintaining the power of the ruling class. The capitalist class is the ruling class under capitalism and it is their interests which are looked after by the police, the armed forces, the judiciary and government departments. Any serious resistance to the status quo by the working class is soon met with state force. Maori and Pacific Islanders, at the bottom of the working class, fare worst of all.
Even small-scale strike action invariably sees police called to pickets - at the behest of the employer. It is not the employer or his hired scabs who are batoned and arrested by police, but the striking workers - punishment for the crime of fighting for workers’ rights. Whenever a large section of the working class has been involved in strikes or protests the state forces are called upon.
In these situations the real nature of the state as a class institution is exposed, and the falseness of the ‘impartiality’ of the state revealed. For years people have been led to believe the state stands above society but the neutrality of the state is quickly cast aside when class struggle is on the agenda.
Victims of police brutality or mistreatment do not get much justice from the Police Complaints Authority. The investigations are conducted by police and two judges head the Authority. Last year it investigated 2076 complaints but publicly released the findings of just four. Barrister Gary Gotlieb claims that if his clients complain to the Authority they find ‘that at a later stage extra charges are laid for bartering purposes. It happens frequently. Sometimes a prosecution is withdrawn on the basis that a complaint is withdrawn’. (New Zealand Herald, 13 May, 2000).
Over the years police have been increasing their powers at the expense of civil rights. They have more powers to search, arrest and detain; longer batons, more firearms and a tame complaints authority which invariably finds in their favour. In the past 60 years not a single police officer has faced charges for shooting someone on duty.
What is badly needed is a campaign to win back civil rights and reduce the power of the police.
The Police Association says a judgment saying police should not search people because of their appearance will not affect how officers operate. NOTE: Police Association will say this, but we all know it's incorrect. After interviewing several Off Duty Police Officers, they agreed, appearance does matter, and does affect what actions they decide to choose.
In a landmark written ruling, Judge Phil Gittos found the police breached the Bill of Rights when they searched Chris Fowlie, president of the National Organisation for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Norml), and arrested him for possession of a small amount of cannabis.
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said police did not search people because of how they looked.
"The reality is that police don't search people because of the way they look, that doesn't happen and never has been justified ... You've got to have more grounds than the way people look to search them."
Judge Gittos had said the police had no reason to suspect that Mr Fowlie and a friend were doing anything illegal when Mr Fowlie was arrested on Karangahape Rd in Auckland at 1.30 am last June 17.
The two friends were saying goodbye after meeting for a coffee when they were approached by two members of a team policing unit.
Constable Karen Hoshek told the court on February 8 that the police were engaged in a "sweep" of Karangahape Rd to speak to people "to find out what they are doing".
She said that as she approached Mr Fowlie as a matter of routine she noticed a strong smell of cannabis.
Judge Gittos said the circumstances left an "uncomfortable perception" that the police were "engineering opportunities to conduct personal searches of persons minding their own business in a public street at random or on a purely speculative basis.
"It needs hardly be said that such conduct would manifestly contravene the provisions of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act."
Furthermore, the judge criticised the police for using the smell of cannabis as the sole grounds for searching Fowlie.
The charge against Fowlie, of possessing 0.7g of cannabis, barely enough for half a joint, was dismissed.
Mr O'Connor said he thought the police were justified searching Mr Fowlie.
"The reality of it is if smelling drugs doesn't give grounds for suspecting someone's got them, then it's hard to imagine what does.
"However, I suspect the judgment is probably a reflection of how much (cannabis) was found more than anything else," Mr O'Connor said.
"I suspect that the judge wouldn't have been making the same decision had the police found a pound of cannabis on him."
Mr O'Connor said he thought the judge's comments would make the police job a little bit harder but would not change who they searched.
"It really doesn't mean much at all -- it doesn't change anything at all."
A spokeswoman for the police said last night that they would take on board and respect the judgment and it could lead to a review of how much evidence was needed to stop and search people.
Up to 72,000 people who are taken to police cells each year could be strip-searched if claims about Wellington Central police jailers hold true for the rest of the country.
Two-thirds of all people arrested and taken to Wellington Central police station are routinely strip-searched, the Court of Appeal heard this week.
Police counsel David Boldt said two-thirds of the people who went through the cells were strip-searched to ensure the safety of both police and other people in the cells.
Mr Boldt was speaking at a Court of Appeal hearing on Tuesday involving a Wellington ex-cycle courier who claims he was illegally strip-searched in 1998.
Paul Te Rangi Po Everitt, aged 28, of Hataitai, was stopped by police after running a red traffic light on January 20, 1998.
He was arrested for allegedly assaulting a female officer and was taken to Wellington Central police station.
The charge of assault was later dropped and he was never given a ticket for the traffic offence.
But his treatment at the station, which included being forced to squat naked on the floor while being searched for drugs before he was processed and released on bail, has become the subject of a civil claim culminating in the Court of Appeal case.
Civil rights lawyer Tony Ellis, who is representing Mr Everitt, said the policy was unlawful and unreasonable.
The police national manager of operations, Superintendent Neville Matthews, said Wellington police carried out strip-searches in accordance with the general instructions issued nationwide.
He said up to 120,000 people entered police cells each year - although there was no national figure of how many were strip-searched, or how many were strip-searched in each region.
He said he doubted if there was anything unusual in the number done in Wellington and police were given some leeway in determining whether to strip-search a person. Each case was ultimately judged on its merits, with safety being the most important factor.
Wellington Central police could not supply a figure for how many people were strip-searched there each year, but its jailer, Sergeant John Butson, said he followed the general instructions strictly.
Auckland police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said about 20,000 people went through the Auckland Central station's cells each year, but no figures were kept of what percentage was strip-searched.
Although whether a person was strip-searched was recorded on his or her charge sheet, the number was not totalled or kept for statistical purposes.
Appealing against a High Court decision last year that held the search was reasonable and lawful, Mr Ellis argued that Mr Everitt had been unlawfully and unreasonably strip-searched.
But Mr Boldt said strip-searches were used to ensure the safety of people and it was better that they suffered a little embarrassment than they ended up hurting themselves or police with items they had concealed.
He said it was impossible for police to judge how dangerous a person was, particularly a first offender like Mr Everitt.
But Mr Ellis said detainees should undergo a rubdown search first. If anything was found, then a strip-search could reasonably follow.
The five judges of the Court of Appeal have reserved their decision.
Criminal activities plotted secretly on Vodafone mobiles look likely to be foiled from next month.
The police are close to reaching an agreement with Vodafone to enable officers to bug calls made on its cellphone network.
Cabinet papers released yesterday reveal that the Government was warned in December that the Police Department's ability to combat organised crime was being seriously eroded by its inability to listen in to calls made on Vodafone mobiles.
Telecom had already reached an agreement with the police and modified its digital network, but Vodafone's 021 service had remained outside the police's tapping powers.
The papers said the police wanted up to $1.1 million to pay Vodafone to make its network "interception capable."
Associate Justice Minister Paul Swain said yesterday that the issue was close to being resolved. Cost had been the sticking point.
"The Government has said it will meet the costs within reason. The argument is around what is within reason.
"The plan is to have it resolved next month."
But security expert Dr Henry B. Wolfe said the technology was already available to intercept and the real issue was privacy.
Dr Wolfe, a senior lecturer with the computer security information science department at Otago University, said police did not need $1.1 million to intercept calls on Vodafone's network.
They simply needed to buy a Machine "the size of a lunchbox" which would enable them to intercept four calls simultaneously.
Dr Wolfe, who has advised the Law Commission on issues of electronic technology and privacy, said giving police uncontrolled interception capabilities gave rise to fears of abuse.
"Law enforcement [officers], like any other group, abuse their power. There need to be measures in place that protect the public from that kind of abuse and with a landline telephone there are."
However, Mr Swain said the police would not be able to intercept calls "willy-nilly" and they would need a warrant in the same way as they did now for bugging fixed telephone lines.
A police spokesman said the department had no comment on Dr Wolfe's claims.
Police were still in discussions with the Government about new legislation which would enable them to keep up with the rapid changes in telecommunications.
A spokeswoman for Vodafone said special technology needed to be installed to intercept calls. She would not comment on the cost or on Dr Wolfe's claims.
She confirmed that the company was working with police on a solution enabling interception.
However, such bugging would require a warrant as for any other interception the police wanted to do.
Laws forcing telecommunications networks to have interception capabilities are already in place in Australia and the United States.
National Party police spokesman Tony Ryall said the Government had to wake up and provide legislation to prevent criminals from avoiding police surveillance.
He said the Government was spending time sorting out privacy issues when "crooks don't need privacy, they need catching."
Political activists say the police have enough trouble distinguishing between lawful protest and criminal activity in the real world without being let loose in cyberspace.
Word that Government officials are preparing a law change to let police pursue criminals through the internet by intercepting their e-mail is ringing alarm bells with civil libertarians and other activists.
The Internet Society shares their concern, and does not want the police to be given power to routinely monitor e-mail on the mere off-chance of catching criminals.
Information Technology and Associate Justice Minister Paul Swain wants to exempt the police from the provisions of legislation against computer hacking which he hopes to take to the cabinet.
The police can now gain interception warrants from the High Court to eavesdrop on phone calls, but the Telecommunications Act has no provisions extending this to electronic communications.
Police believe criminals talk to each other by e-mail to avoid phone taps.
Mr Swain insists any proposals to allow internet snooping will be as tightly controlled as phone interception warrants, and will be referred to a select committee to ensure safeguards for the privacy of innocent people.
But the anti-free trade Gatt Watchdog group says the police criminal intelligence service has already overstepped the mark in its surveillance of political activists and should not be given further powers.
Spokesman Aziz Choudry said having power to intercept email would give the service "carte blanche" to spy on a wide range of community groups, political organisations, trade unions and individuals "of interest" to it.
"Recent history suggests the usual glib official assurances that such organisations and people will not be snooped on by state security and intelligence services will be worthless," he said.
On a lighter note, he acknowledged it might at least save taxpayers the cost of dressing up police in "fake moustaches and dreadlocks" to infiltrate political meetings.
Mr Choudry cited the High Court's award in May of $20,000 to Christchurch university lecturer Dr David Small for an illegal police search of his property after a bomb hoax connected with an Apec ministerial meeting as an example of police exceeding their powers.
The court was told the police intelligence service had taken an interest in Dr Small since he wrote articles about Pacific independence issues for Corso in the 1980s.
Justice Young did not accept the search was a payback for Dr Small's chance discovery of Security Intelligence Agents in Mr Choudry's home, which was also under surveillance.
But he said the worst aspect of the case was that Dr Small's home was searched simply because he was an activist "in what he regards as social justice causes" and without reasonable grounds for suspecting him of a crime.
The judge said there was a difference between maintaining a legitimate interest in political activists and equating their activism with a propensity to commit crimes.
Internet Society chairman Peter Dengate Thrush, a lawyer, said he supported the Government's aim of pursuing criminals, but intercepting e-mail would be much harder than tapping phones.
E-mail was split into many data packets, and it would be very difficult to target specific messages without vacuuming up others sent by law-abiding citizens.
Meanwhile, Parliament's justice and electoral committee will decide soon whether to accept a request from 24 groups and individuals to investigate the role of the police intelligence service in light of the Small case.
Police chiefs were unavailable for comment, but Police Association president Greg O'Connor said he felt no need to apologise for safeguarding society against the possibility of a political assassination.
He noted that a political protest group, Greenpeace, was quick to demand strenuous police efforts in tracking down the French agents who sank the Rainbow Warrior.
It's NZ Law but is it Justice?