Amy McGillivray

Amy is the lifestyles reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Four of 41 complaints against police held


Forty-one complaints were made to independent conduct investigators against Western Bay police in the past year - but only four were upheld.


The complaints to the Independent Police Conduct Authority ranged from brutality to escaping custody in the year to February 28.


Bay of Plenty police professional services manager Inspector Anna Jackson told the Bay of Plenty Times the figures reflected well on officers who were often in tough situations.


Western Bay police faced fewer complaints than their counterparts in other areas of similar size such as Counties-Manukau South, Hawke's Bay, Whangarei and Dunedin, which had between 50 and 64 complaints.


Nationally, 5 per cent of complaints were upheld last year.


One upheld complaint in the Western Bay related to a woman unhappy with the time it took police to respond to her call for help to remove difficult relatives from her home.


Police call takers lost the directions to the job so a local officer tracked down her number and confirmed the danger was over and police could attend the job later in the evening.


"The police took quite a long time to get there because communication had broken down between comms (the police communications centre) and the police," Ms Jackson said.

"It was upheld because we had given her inadequate service."


An officer who crashed an unmarked police car while performing traffic duties was also found to be at fault.

The Bay of Plenty Times reported on the crash between an unmarked police car and a Fonterra milk tanker in the Kaimai Ranges in April, 2012.


Police refused to comment on the cause at the time but Ms Jackson said the investigation found the officer did not look behind him properly while doing a U-turn.


"With all the driving we do and the tricky manoeuvres, sometimes we do get it wrong. He didn't check his blind spot."


Another conduct authority investigation found an officer at a vehicle checkpoint used excessive force while examining a car and dented an exhaust pipe. The complaint was upheld as the force was deemed unnecessary.


The fourth complaint upheld related to how information about a mental patient was given to another agency. Ms Jackson said correct procedure was not followed.


"It was about the manner of the release, not the fact the information was released."


Independent Police Conduct Authority investigations begin when a complaint is made or there is alleged serious misconduct, neglect of duty or harm.


Police Association Bay of Plenty and Waikato regional director Wayne Aberhart said most complaints were frivolous.


He said "99.9 per cent" of police staff "do things in good faith and do them in a professional manner and whatever they do, for some people, is not going to be enough".


Force did sometimes have to be used, he said. "If you don't comply with the request of a police officer then you run the risk of being forced to do what you are being told."

 

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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