Letter sent to IPCA re police officers hiding their identities

We have written to the Independent Police Complaints Authority to ask them to investigate the police officers who deliberately hid their identities by sharing badge numbers while evicting protesters in Auckland in January 2012 (see One News report).

We will report back any response we get from the IPCA.

Dear Independent Police Complaints Authority,

I am writing to you on behalf of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties.

We note with concern your decision not to take action against the police officers who deliberately obscured their identity while evicting the Occupy Auckland protesters in January 2012. Apparently the IPCA does not see this as a case of serious police misconduct, a position we cannot agree with.

One difference between a civil society and a police state is that in a civil society police can be held accountable for their actions. Obviously this cannot be done when individual officers cannot be identified, so we have rules that say that police must be identifiable including the use of badge numbers.

By deliberately using incorrect badge numbers, these police officers have conspired to remove this limitation, to become unaccountable. This is of particular concern due to the nature of the policing they were doing, where there was a significant chance of a violent clash between police and the protesters being evicted. One wonders about the level of pre-meditation required to share badge numbers and what this says about the intentions of the officers involved to break the law.

We take no comfort from the news that the officers have been disciplined by the Police, especially when the Police found "no malicious intent", something that seems very unlikely especially when no other explanation is given. Indeed, this lack of credibility about the Police enforcing rules amongst themselves is one of the reasons for the creation of the IPCA.

We urge you to reconsider this decision and take action against these officers.