Posters offend officers and rape victims, say police

Police say posters posing as police recruitment advertising are offensive to them and to rape and sexual assault victims.

The posters which recently appeared around Wellington said a career in New Zealand police was a way to hear "great rape stories".

Former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, and Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards were acquitted by a jury last week on charges of kidnapping and indecently assaulting a then-16-year-old girl more than 20 years ago.

Last year the same three men were acquitted of historic sex charges against Rotorua woman Louise Nicholas. Shipton and Schollum are already in prison for a different rape -- of a Mount Maunganui woman 18 years ago.

There has been a public outcry since that information was made public after court suppression orders were lifted.

Superintendent Grant O'Fee said these were difficult days for police.

"Regardless of what views some people may have about recent events, the continual parodying will take its toll on our frontline staff who every day and night are serving the community.

"Police are appealing to the wider New Zealand public to support their officers throughout the country during these difficult days for all of us."

Mr O'Fee said the vast majority of police officers were still working, as they always had, often under tremendous pressure, for the good of all New Zealanders.

The current climate did not make this any easier for individual officers, he said.

Police Minister Annette King also leapt to the defence of police saying the posters were a "slur" on their reputation.

Ms King said the poster, which appeared today at Wellington Railway Station, was unfair, ugly and vicious.

"I'm asking the people who put up this poster to think about the huge majority of decent police staff whom they are damaging and hurting by their ill-considered actions," she said.

Former policemen Brad Shipton and Bob Schollum, and Assistant Police Commissioner Clint Rickards were acquitted by a jury last week on charges of kidnapping and indecently assaulting a then-16-year-old girl more than 20 years ago.

Last year the same three men were acquitted of historic sex charges against Rotorua woman Louise Nicholas.

Shipton and Schollum are already in prison for a different rape -- of a Mount Maunganui woman 18 years ago. That information was made public after court suppression orders were lifted.

Ms King said it was important to note that the people who had brought the prosecution against the three men were police themselves.

Superintendent Grant O'Fee, district commander for Tasman and speaking on behalf of his Police Executive colleagues, said the posters were offensive to victims of rape and sexual abuse and to members of the police.

He conceded these were difficult days for NZ police and added: "Regardless of what views some people may have about recent events, the continual parodying will take its toll on our frontline staff who every day and night are serving the community.

"Police are appealing to the wider New Zealand public to support their officers throughout the country during these difficult days for all of us."

The poster comes as police are trying to recruit enough staff to fill the 1000 extra positions promised as part of New Zealand First's support agreement with Labour.

Opposition MPs say the recruitment drive is failing to meet its targets and police are dropping entry standards in a bid to make up the numbers.

- NZPA, NZHERALD STAFF

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