Police control of information is anti-democratic and must stop

The NZ Council for Civil Liberties is deeply concerned about the revelations from Dr Jarrod Gilbert today. In his article in the NZ Herald, he asserts that the Police:

  • Have banned him from accessing "basic and uncontroversial" police data because, as a crime researcher, he has associated with criminals.
  • Assert that they can control who sees and uses data.
  • Demand the right to "improve" or block the publication of research reports. (See the research contract.)
  • Reserve the right to blacklist researchers at their discretion.

The Police hold a lot of power in our society and our need for transparency and oversight is accordingly great. Their actions are contrary to the principles of open government and the Official Information Act and must cease immediately.

We are even more concerned that multiple people in the Police hierarchy have conceived of, approved of, and applied these policies. By blocking transparency and seeking to control what is said about them, they have demonstrated contempt for democratic government. They have shown that they are not fit to hold their positions.

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