Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Senior police officer ‘improperly influenced’ assault prosecution

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found that a senior officer improperly involved himself in the prosecution outcome for a man charged with assaulting a woman in Northland in 2020.

On 14 June 2020, a man was arrested for assaulting a woman outside a bar in Whāngārei. After his arrest, a senior member of Police became involved in the prosecution. The charge against the man was later withdrawn.

In a statement, the IPCA said the officer had a business relationship with the charged man’s father and actively involved himself in the prosecution process, influencing the prosecutor to withdraw the charge.

It found that the officer breached the conflict of interest policy due to his relationship with the man’s father.

The Authority also found, the prosecuting officer’s assessment of the evidence and his ultimate decision to withdraw the charge were influenced by the senior officer.

“The officer should not have become involved in the prosecution of this case,” said Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty.

“As a senior officer in the District, he should not have used his position to influence the decision making of other officers. His actions were inappropriate and improper.”

The matter was investigated by the IPCA after a former member of NZ Police complained to the Authority about the officer’s involvement in the prosecution.

Northland District Commander, Superintendent Tony Hill said Police acknowledge the findings of the IPCA report.

“Police accepts the IPCA’s finding that there was a conflict of interest for the senior officer and that he should not have been involved in the case,” he said.

“An employment investigation has been concluded.”

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