Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: The Police Ten 7 State

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  • Marcelo Rodriguez Ferrere,

    I invite my fellow journalists, academics and other members of the public to join me in saying so in the discussion for this blog post. This cannot stand.

    Agreed. And I can't help but feel that this is ever so counterproductive from the Police's perspective. It might be naïve of me to think so, but they really ought to be embracing Dr Gilbert's work. He's someone they can - and should - work with to improve their processes. In any case, this decision reviewable by the Ombudsman: as it should be.

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 33 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Thomas Beagle,

    The Police Minister must take strong action to fix this problem and clean the rot out of the Police.

    I hope that we don't have to haul Tony Fitzgerald out of retirement.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Except the police force is not a commercial company. They are public servants who fulfill a very specific and privileged role in society.

    This thing. We give the police a near-monopoly on the legal use of violence, forsaking the Hobbesian model for something a little more genteel. With great power, etc, and that includes, as Craig put it so beautifully, putting on their "blue serge grown-up pants" when someone points out that any resemblance to snow is less like the driven variety and more like the yellow one, and enabling that criticism to be developed in an informed manner.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Except the police force is not a commercial company. They are public servants who fulfill a very specific and privileged role in society. That role needs constant scrutiny because of the power that the police have.

    Yes - and that's the core problem. We have a government agency behaving like a pharmaceutical company and potentially censoring research results on which its own policy framework is based. That's not good for democracy, its not good for policy, and it certainly isn't good for public trust or the police's social licence to operate.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Thomas Beagle, in reply to Thomas Beagle,

    I put that a little more forcefully on the NZ Council for Civil Liberties website: http://nzccl.org.nz/content/police-control-information-anti-democratic-and-must-stop

    New Zealand • Since Nov 2007 • 46 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    One other thing, I rag on the Herald a lot, and it richly deserves ever drop of bile so I’m very happy to extend well-earned kudos to them for publishing Jarrod Gilbert’s column at all.

    And, perhaps even more notably, for placing it high on the Herald home page this morning.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Steven Price,

    I'm afraid NoRightTurn is wrong to suggest that the Police are subject to the Ombudsmen's general jurisdiction to investigate administrative wrongdoing. They are not.

    Well, they're scheduled in the Ombudsmen's Act, but s13(7)(d) forbids the Ombudsman from investigating "any decision, recommendation, act, or omission of any constable", and the existing remedies clause will rule out pretty much anything the IPCA has jurisdiction over. But the Ombudsman appears to have theoretical jusrisdiction over decisions and actions of non-sworn staff if they want it, for all the good its worth.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Last year, when Jarrod debunked Anne Tolley’s bogus statistics about gangs and crime – and got smeared on Kiwiblog for his trouble.

    Now he’s coming in to bat for Dr Gilbert. On closer inspection, DPF previously put out a rare mea culpa. He denies smearing Dr Gilbert, but first impressions last.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And, perhaps even more notably, for placing it high on the Herald home page this morning.

    I sometimes wonder if it's like the editor of the UK Indy and the Daily Mail jostling for the control stick.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5416 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    You’d think the Police of all people would welcome sound research informing evidence-based policy that works.

    Why would you think that? It's never been their history, nor is it something that anyone (police or otherwise) welcomes from the outside. I would not expect any organization to be happy about being scrutinized externally. Which is why it shouldn't be their call. That's just not how you organize open, fair and accountable systems, especially not ones with extraordinary powers, like the police have.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Dr Gilbert has published the full research contract here:

    http://www.jarrodgilbert.com/blog/the-police-research-contract

    Its absolutely horrifying.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Oliver Thompson,

    I was deeply impressed with the NZ police when they made Louise Nicholas the patron of a graduating wing at the Police College recently, so they've shown they can reconsider their attitude to a critic of their culture and performance.

    Hopefully their reconsideration of their attitude to Jarrod Gilbert won't take as long.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2011 • 9 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Marshall,

    I have written to the Minister and I encourage other academics to do so as well. Feel free to plagiarise from my comments if you wish. This is far too important to ignore, particularly as I feel it is really only the tip of the iceberg as far as Public Service attempts to hide from academic scrutiny are concerned.

    Minister,

    I am writing in my capacity as a researcher and academic concerned that the actions of the Police are acting in a manner contrary to the legal obligations of academics to act as critics and consciences of society. As reported, the behaviour of the Police with regard to academic research has been completely unacceptable in a free and democratic society. We need a strong Police force, well respected by society to have a safe a democratic society. That strength is enabled by robust and effective scrutiny by researchers such as Dr Gilbert.

    I look forward to hearing that you have acted decisively to address this situation, providing Dr Gilbert with full access to the data he needs and an apology from the Police to him, and to the academic community in general, for their behaviour. The contracts used with researchers must be changed to properly balance appropriate protection of sensitive information with the need to effectively and openly scrutinise a powerful arm of the Government.

    Regards
    Dr Stephen Marshall

    Since Nov 2015 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie,

    While you might expect such heavy-handed Police tactics in less-democractic territories such as Fiji, there is no place for this nonsense in NZ.

    Stuff is running this story as their national news lead entitled Police 'censor' researcher. That report includes this line.

    Police had contacted Gilbert to say “that further consideration will be given to our decision regarding the security clearance (police vetting) check”.

    The beginning of a backdown? Hopefully.

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Jackson James Wood, in reply to Steven Price,

    Which is a shame, because someone really needs to give them a shake-up.

    Yup. When I was working at the Drug Foundation we put in some OIA requests about the cost of drug-related operations. After ignoring it for a month, and then asking for an extension for another month, they asked us to come down to the HQ and we had a meeting in the very lovely police cafe (you should go there, great view, average coffee). They told us some bull about their accounting systems not tracking costs on a per operation basis — which I find negligent. Eg.

    Me: How much did Operation Nebraska cost?

    Police: Sorry, we have no idea.

    New Zealand • Since May 2011 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Jackson James Wood,

    They told us some bull about their accounting systems not tracking costs on a per operation basis — which I find negligent. Eg.

    Me: How much did Operation Nebraska cost?

    Police: Sorry, we have no idea.

    I get this response consistently from police when-ever I ask how much something cost. Yet they're able to produce such statistics when it is convenient to them.

    At the least, it appears to be negligent, if not a violation of the Public Records Act.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Jackson James Wood,

    They told us some bull about their accounting systems not tracking costs on a per operation basis — which I find negligent.

    Actually quite plausible, if there's no tie between the time/case management system where staff record their time and the accounting system that tracks AR/AP. What possible utility is it to payroll to have a track of hours allocated to particular cases? I could make a strong argument against having payroll clerks with visibility of anything more than total hours worked in a given period.

    Try asking how many hours were allocated to a particular operation, broken down by rank/role. Then go back and ask for median/mean salary of the various ranks. It's not perfect, but it'll give you a pretty decent guide to the cost of an operation and it should not be able to be refused on any reasonable grounds since police pay scales are public record and you're not asking for personally-identifying information.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    So who wants to do some crowdsourced OIAs? Here's some obvious requests to make:

    * All advice and communications (including emails) on the development of that contract.
    * A list of the occasions in the past year where police have identified "negative results" and sought to "improve [the] outcomes" under cl8.3(c) of the contract. In each case, I would like to know the identity of the Project involved, as well as a brief summary of the "negative" finding(s), the "improvements" sought, and whether they were adopted.
    * A list of the occasions in the past year where police have vetoed Project findings from release in accordance with cl8.2 of the contract. In each case, I would like to know the identity of the Project involved, as well as a brief summary of the vetoed findings and the reason(s) for their veto.
    * The number of occasions in the past 5 years police have terminated a research contract under cl 11.1(a) of the contract. In each case, I would like to know the Project and the identity of the researcher(s) concerned, and a summary of the information or actions deemed to "injure the reputation or interests of NZ Police" or "bring... NZ Police into disrepute".
    * The number of occasions in the past 5 years police have:
    o initiated a police Code of Conduct investigation in accordnace with cl 11.2(b);
    o laid a formal complaint with any organisation in accordance with cl 11.2(c)
    o blacklisted a researcher or organisation in accordance with cl 11.2(d)
    In each case, I would like to know the Project and the identity of the researcher(s) concerned.

    You can make a request at the FYI page here: https://fyi.org.nz/new/new_zealand_police

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Alfie,

    The beginning of a backdown? Hopefully.

    That would be great, but a backdown in Dr Gilbert's case isn't sufficient: the whole policy needs to go. It's completely unacceptable. As an academic who regularly uses government-sourced data, I would never sign an agreement like that. Earlier this year I was seeking data from a private company, and we had a fair bit of wrangling to ensure the non-disclosure agreement signed with them wouldn't compromise my ability to publish. I have huge admiration for that company that they took a leap of faith and agreed to a pre-agreed paragraph for the limitations section of subsequent publications, rather than wanting to hold results back if they weren't favourable for them, knowing that there is potential for the results to have adverse implications for their business.

    And even their original non-disclosure agreement wasn't as restrictive and draconian as that required by NZ Police.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    Unclear from the Herald article exactly what he requested, suspect it was "personal information" held about him by Police. This wouldn't be covered by OIA, but the Privacy Act instead.

    Presumably it wasn't a simple request for his own criminal record because he would know that already.

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant, in reply to Glenn Pearce,

    Unclear from the Herald article exactly what he requested, suspect it was "personal information" held about him by Police. This wouldn't be covered by OIA, but the Privacy Act instead.

    Or a s23 OIA request for reasons for a decision.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1711 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to BenWilson,

    Why would you think that? It’s never been their history...

    But it is their brief is to improve things (ostensibly), sitting on their hands doesn't do that...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7887 posts Report Reply

  • Glenn Pearce,

    Possibly, although I don't get that sense from the article, perhaps he could clarify

    On the face of it the original request for data that triggered this would be covered by OIA.
    Is this police "contract" a new thing?

    Auckland • Since Feb 2007 • 499 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    I am of the opinion that this all stems from the attitude that we, the public, are referred to by the police as "Civilians". This presumes that the police are not "civilians" but some kind of elite military unit, this is not what the police are but how they think of themselves.
    I have had friends that have joined and left the force for various reasons, one told me it was because of the compulsory random drug testing but that is another matter. Many left because they couldn't stand the "dumbing down" that was part of the training, have you ever listened to the speech patterns of a cop? they are like that of an automaton.
    This current attitude problem is part and parcel of the same thing, they believe themselves not only superior to us but that they are above the law.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    I am of the opinion that this all stems from the attitude that we, the public, are referred to by the police as “Civilians”. This presumes that the police are not “civilians” but some kind of elite military unit, this is not what the police are but how they think of themselves.

    They may not be an "elite military unit", but they are uniformed officers of the Crown, sworn and empowered to enforce the law, including using deadly force if necessary. They are not Joe or Josephine Public, and pretending that they are just like you is supremely naive. For better or worse, they are a power apart from all the rest of the citizens of this country.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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