Police brutalise Upper Hutt teens

Stuff reports that Police in Upper Hutt mistreated two teens (aged 16 and 14) after falsely identifying them and taking them to the cells for up to 36 hours:

The 16-year-old, who was breastfeeding at the time, claims she was forced to express her breastmilk into the cell sink, while the younger girl claims she was given no toilet paper during the weekend. Both also say they were denied the opportunity to talk to a lawyer or to contact their parents.

"I don't get it, what did they need my undies and my bra for?," the 14-year-old said yesterday.

Youth Court judge Mary O'Dwyer ruled the arrests unlawful and dismissed the charges:

She criticised the police's decision not to free the girls on bail, to keep them in custody for more than 24 hours and to not consult a senior social worker before doing so, which is required by law.

Judge O'Dwyer noted that the descriptions taken of the alleged offenders did not match the 16-year-old, while the evidence in respect to the 14-year-old was weak.

The Police claim to be investigating:

Both arresting officers were probationary officers who had little experience. Upper Hutt area commander Inspector Mike Hill said he stood by his words describing the handling of the investigation and the action of staff as an "aberration".

Checks and balances were not present and there was inadequate supervision. A senior staff member was investigating and Mr Hill would not comment on whether any officers had been disciplined.

Our Comments

Sadly this story fits in with other accounts of how Police treat young people who are either unaware of their rights or are too intimidated to stand up for them.

NORML has an article explaining your rights when interacting with the Police or you can download this brochure (PDF) from Peace Movement Aotearoa.

Finally, if badly treated, consider complaining to the Police or to the Independent Police Complaints Authority.