Nosy cops search official files - two charged, 16 resign

By Jimmy Ellingham

Two charged, 16 resign but most sticky beaks warned after 133 caught wrongly checking official records
Twenty-two of those looked up family members, 20 themselves, 16 associates or friends and 14 their current or former partners. Photo / File Photo
Twenty-two of those looked up family members, 20 themselves, 16 associates or friends and 14 their current or former partners. Photo / File Photo

More than 130 curious cops have been snapped wrongly accessing confidential police records over the past five years.

Many checked on themselves, family, friends and current and ex-partners, while a constable was found to have looked up Kim Dotcom in 2014 on what is known as the National Intelligence Application (NIA).

Most of the transgressions were by lower ranking police officers or police employees, with the exception of Detective Inspector Mark Gutry.

He was suspended from his senior role in the Counties Manukau police district after a complaint of sexual violation was made by a prostitute.

No criminal charges were laid but Mr Gutry resigned in 2014 as an internal investigation examined why he viewed the woman's NIA file up to 20 times over two years.

Also that year, a recruit at the Police College in Porirua curtailed his career in uniform when he checked on himself and associates.

He also resigned during an investigation.

Figures supplied to NZME under the Official Information Act show that between 2011 and last year, 133 police officers and employees wrongly took a peek at the computer system, which holds extensive information including criminal records.

Twenty-two of those looked up family members, 20 themselves, 16 associates or friends and 14 their current or former partners.

One senior sergeant looked himself up 11 times.

Nobody was dismissed as a result of their actions, but 16 resigned during investigations, while 76 first, second or final warnings were dished out.

Two faced criminal charges. In 2013, Constable Peter Pakau supplied information to a criminal associate. He was sentenced to eight years and four months in prison for drugs and corruption convictions.

Two years earlier, a police employee in Waitemata district supplied information to a criminal associate.

A sergeant and a constable from the Southern police district used the system to "check for rugby players for selection purpose(s)" in 2012. Both received second warnings.

The police service centre had the most naughty employees, 17, followed by 14 from Counties Manukau.

"Police take the security of confidential information very seriously and there are strict controls on access to information held in the National Intelligence Application system, with staff bound by a code of conduct, police instructions and the Policing Act 2008," a spokeswoman said.

"Users must not access or attempt to access, intercept, pass on, copy, or use in any manner any information held in or derived from police information systems unless it is for business purposes."

Unauthorised access of the system would be classed as "serious misconduct", the spokeswoman said.

Access was regularly monitored and random monthly audits would ask 75 people, about 0.75 per cent of staff, to justify their usage for that month.

"In general, many thousands of police staff access NIA and other systems every week. It is very disappointing that the actions of a few staff fall short of the expectation set out in the code of conduct [and] impact upon the professionalism of NZ police. Where inappropriate access is detected the matter is taken very seriously by police."

What happened to the wrongdoers?

• First warning: 37
• Final warning: 23
• Professional conversation: 17
• Third warning: 16
• Resigned during process: 16
• Expectation conversation: 4
• Counselling: 4
• Letter of direction: 4
• No action: 3
• Other: 3
• Active investigation: 2
• Criminal charge: 2
• Performance management: 1
• Retired during process: 1

- NZ Herald

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