Key Points:

A sexual assault complainant who had her details looked up by a former policeman says it was a disgrace that he resigned without facing any disciplinary action.

Tauranga woman Donna Johnson told the Herald last night she was shocked to learn former constable Steve Hales had not only accessed her details in 2006 - despite her having laid harassment complaints about him in the past - but that it took police so long to tell her.

Mr Hales is the brother of Warren Hales, who admitted abducting a woman for a pack rape by Brad Shipton, Bob Schollum and Peter McNamara in 1989.

"I think it's disgraceful that the police have known since 2004 about an allegation of harassment that I made against Steven Hales," said Ms Johnson. "I [also] spoke to Operation Austin in 2007 and in November of 2007 Mr Hales offers his resignation - well, sorry that's really not good enough."

Ms Johnson said she had heard rumours last year about Mr Hales resigning and some trouble he may have been in. She rang the police to ask if it was true but was told it could not be confirmed or denied.

It wasn't until this week - when news of his resignation and the fact he had been checking details on the computer emerged in the media - that police contacted Ms Johnson to tell her what had happened.

"When they did phone me the day [the] story broke to tell me Mr Hales had been accessing my file they gave me the date as being January 25, 2006 that he accessed my file."

Ms Johnson said the delay in notifying her and the fact that Mr Hales had resigned without facing any disciplinary action had made a mockery of the police system.

It also sent the wrong message to other serving officers about what they could get away with and she wanted Police Commissioner Howard Broad to "step up" and "take ownership" of what's happened.

Warren Hales was initially found guilty of rape in a 2005 trial, but won a retrial on appeal. The rape charges were dropped and he pleaded guilty to abduction and was sentenced to 18 months' jail.

The victim of the 1989 Mt Maunganui pack rape told 3 News she was outraged by the police decision to accept Mr Hales' resignation when he had been looking up secret details of where she lived.

The rape victim, who has permanent name suppression, said police should have taken disciplinary action against him.

But Bay of Plenty district commander Gary Smith told the Herald no internal disciplinary action was possible as Mr Hales no longer worked for police but an investigation into whether he had committed any criminal offences was under way.

Asked if the public could have confidence in police that its data systems would not be used inappropriately, Mr Smith said: "Police have procedures and policies and these breaches were detected by police systems and they are followed up vigorously as we do with any breach of our policy. We are determining if these breaches were legitimate."

Mr Smith said people were assuming the former police officer had no right to make the checks.

"Part of the inquiry is to determine whether these checks were made legitimately in a state of reasonableness. If they weren't, clearly we need to look to see if there is a breach of policy, and if there is [a breach] whether it's sufficient to warrant any criminal intervention."

Police General Manager of Human Resources Wayne Annan, said Mr Hales was not "allowed" to resign as had been reported elsewhere.

He said under employment law the resignation could not have been turned down even if the alleged breaches had been discovered prior to his notice being submitted.

"It is a commonly held fallacy that resignations can be withheld in order to keep an individual on an employer's books until they can be fully dealt with in a disciplinary sense," said Mr Annan.

He said changes to the police code of conduct in February would streamline disciplinary processes but would still not impinge on a person's ability to resign at any point.

"You can't stop a person resigning, we'd all be slaves otherwise."