Police Commissioner confident lockdown enforcement was legal

NZ Herald: Legality of police action during covid 19 coronavirus lockdown questioned in legal quarters

Leaked emails from the police top brass show how legally exposed they felt when the country was ordered into lockdown in March.

Emails from Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement to district commanders and to the now Commissioner Andy Coster show a Crown Law opinion warning the police they had little or no power to enforce the lockdown.

That was the case for the first two weeks of the Government orders before the director general of health Ashley Bloomfield used the outdated Health Act to issue specific regulations.

The powers only come into play when a breach is obvious.

Clement said they “cannot direct anyone to do anything unless it is quite extreme in its nature and with direct and significant impacts for the health of others”.

But is this dated information?

Today RNZ:  Police Commissioner on enforcing lockdown: ‘I’m confident that we acted lawfully’

The Police Commissioner says he’s confident police acted lawfully in enforcing the level 4 lockdown. Emails leaked to the New Zealand Herald from Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement to other top officers share a Crown Law opinion warning police they had little to no power to enforce the lockdown during the first two weeks of it, and officers should be operating as though the country were at level 1.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told Morning Report police were “conservative” in how they enforced the lockdown early on while they got clarity around their powers.

“At the start of any operation we will ascertain what powers we have in order to enforce whatever it is we are trying to achieve,” he said.

“In this case we had powers under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act and under a Health Notice. Early on the power we used were predominantly Civil Defence Emergency Management Act powers and those allowed us to give directions to people where it appeared that they weren’t complying with the lockdown controls.

“So that is what we were routinely doing and that was entirely lawful, where we took enforcement action early on it was for repeated, persistent breaches of directions given by police. So those were the powers we had, those were the powers we used and as I say I’m confident that we acted lawfully.”

Commissioner Coster said it was “challenging” for police early on in the lockdown, but is confident none of his staff overstepped the mark in enforcing it.

Enforcement seemed quite light handed generally.

“The direction to our people was that enforcement action needed to follow warning or direction to comply with the controls and a failure to do so and that’s in those early stages before the second Health Notice was issued, those were the powers we exercising, but we need to bear in mind the vast majority of people were doing the right thing, it was always our intention to educate and encourage before enforcement and that’s how we approached that period.

“It was fit for purpose at the time, as time went on and there was less excuse for not knowing and not complying was when we took the steps that we needed to under the Health Notice of more proactive prosecution,” Coster said.

Commissioner Coster said there is no confusion on police’s behalf now that the Health Notice is crystal clear.

It’s not surprising that in the rush to make lockdowns legal that mistakes were made, or at least that they weren’t ideal.

The Police Commissioner is happy with how it has been since the change in mid-April. Obviously this could still be legally challenged, but it’s impossible to tell whether the current legal situation would hold up in court or not if properly challenged.

Leave a comment

40 Comments

  1. Alan Wilkinson

     /  4th May 2020

    In retrospect the mistakes will become clear and the laws will be changed whether or not there are proper legal challenges through the courts. In the meantime everything is political including the police.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  4th May 2020

      I haven’t read the post & links yet; I’m setting up to repaint my kitchen seeing its a cold wind outside & more rain’s forecast out of our patchy skies.

      Andrew Coster has struck me – from admittedly what little I have seen & heard of him so far – as a bit of a Mike Bush clone. It’ll be intriguing to see whether he stamps any individuality on the role where oft times Mike Bush seemed to be MIA.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  4th May 2020

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  4th May 2020

          I’m too busy to go at you at the moment, B.
          Maybe later ? We’ll see how you’re behaving first, eh ? 😐

          Reply
      • What colour ? I have the paint ready for the sittingroom (very original, cream but I already had it and it will make the room lighter) but am shirking moving the furniture.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  4th May 2020

          Resene Antique Ivory. It’s a soft creamy white with a teensy amount of pink tinge.
          It was given to me by a former neighbour, & I think it will go well in a kitchen with a lot of bench top that’s this colour:

          What colour would you call that, btw ? 😳

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  4th May 2020

            Good choice with that kitchen wood work and benchtop

            Reply
          • Old rose ? Resene is the best. It lasts for many years. I like their mistints, $8 a litre. There’s usually a colour that you like, and if there’s not, you go another day.

            I’d like to paint the cupboard doors and drawers, but they are something like melamine (but not shiny) They are a rather dated darkish green, but I can live with it rather than make a mess trying to paint that surface. ??? I could try inside the airing cupboard.

            Reply
          • Blazer

             /  4th May 2020

            topic header-‘Police Commissioner confident lockdown enforcement was legal’

            do you have a zip up squirrel suit?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  4th May 2020

              Sorry, no. If yours got its tail caught on an escalator & is in for repairs after it stayed & you carried on, suggest you check out some costume-hire places.

            • Blazer

               /  4th May 2020

              I see your tail is lying on the kitchen bench,unattached.
              The quite rare, blue-tailed Tawa genus.

            • Gezza

               /  4th May 2020

              No that’s a blue plastic dishwashing brush. When’s the last time you saw an optician, B?

              Your monocle might need a prescription change? Or maybe if you took off your eye patch & saw things with two eyes instead of one, your view might be better?

    • Blazer

       /  4th May 2020

      I’d say it was pretty legal….I mean who would have thought it was…illegal. 😉

      Reply
      • I would think that telling people that they could go to local places and then turning them back when they do so is dodgy. The police are in a no-win on that one.

        Reply
      • Duker

         /  4th May 2020

        Lawyers who want to look at loopholes will always say theres ‘questions to be asked’ and that can ONLY be decided by a judge .And when the judge disagrees with said dyspeptic lawyer , what does he say ?
        APPEAL to another judge of course….$$$$$$$$

        Where a builder might see a big wall with solid foundations , and a bit of loose mortar amoung the bricks, the lawyer sees it as not legal

        Interesting that the reports of what the Police Commisioner said this morning are EXACTLY what I have been saying this week and repeated this morning before these came available.
        Luckily you guys have me on hand to steer you all the right direction – that of truth, light and sanity ( but not niceness)

        Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  4th May 2020

    Untold police hours spent stopping safe people doing safe things while infected people were refused tests and failed contact tracing:
    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/300003569/woman-on-regional-flight-with-coronavirus-case-contacted-by-tracing-team-more-than-four-weeks-later

    Clueless misallocation of resources.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  4th May 2020

      Different roles old chap…. police are trained to do what ?
      Contact tracers in a call center are trained to do what ?
      Medical staff at a testing station are tarined and equipped to do what ?

      Of course ONE person who was tested and came back negative , somehow proves what?
      “She was able to get tested after proving she was on a flight with a confirmed case.
      The results came back negative, but she was told there were lots of false negatives, so she was a probable case of Covid-19.”

      Cant have been that sick if she was spending all her free time turning herself into a VICTIM
      Contact tracers and tester have handled 10s of thousands but yes lets throw it all away because of an ‘outlier’ …that will make it work better , a Pahia picture shop owner thinks so.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th May 2020

        Clear and obvious failures denied.

        Reply
      • One of the dead was ‘negative’ but still classed as dying of Covid.

        If there are so many false negs, why has no one done anything about this ? There are probably false positives, too.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  4th May 2020

          The standard test is in the nostrils, when someone is dying its because the virus is in the lungs and other organs

          “So, the first important thing is whether the right sample is taken by a competent person”…rules out picture shop owners even they know their way around the testubes

          “For some, the sample might be from a procedure called a bronchoalveolar lavage. To get this sample, someone puts a tube down your mouth or nose into your lungs, squirts some fluid into your lungs, and then collects the fluid back again. Some people have had negative throat and nose swabs but positive bronchoalveolar lavages”

          Who knew it would depend on where in the body a test is taken? Isnt it lucky you have nice sweet me to help educate you
          https://www.auckland.ac.nz/en/news/2020/03/18/how-testing-for-covid-19-works.html

          Reply
  3. duperez

     /  4th May 2020

    The reports, reviews and investigations when the dust clears will be interesting.Virtually every aspect is contentious.

    Police involvement? Their involvement would have been irrelevant with just ‘business as usual,’ if there’d been no lockdown. They could have been removed from the equation quite simply by there being no lockdown. No debate about legalities needed.

    No lockdown would also remove interpretations of ‘rules’ too, judgements having to be made and disagreements around those.

    Maybe recommendations for the next pandemic, regardless of the nature of the way it’s transmitted, will have it that the Government should just suggest people do or don’t do certain things.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  4th May 2020

      Sweden with 2x our 5 mill people 2700 deaths so far and which will keep going and going …and going
      Went from 230 deaths at beginning of April to 2300 at end of month from just ‘making suggestions’
      This end month wont be 10x the month start figures but even 2x would bring it to 5000 or so.
      Its a long haul epidemic, and there will be slower periods followed by new waves right into next year. Thats what epidemics do that hit the sweet spot of having a good % asymptomatic and a week before symptoms appear.

      Reply
  4. lurcher1948

     /  4th May 2020

    Don’t worry Simon Bridges will get to the bottom of this, as he thinks this will save his butt and make him PM…NOT.., there’s to much of the hint of an oily used car salesman with a speech impediment in Mr Simon Bridges, hardly anyone’s warmed to him hence 7%

    Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  4th May 2020

    More police b.s. and balls-ups over iwi checkpoints:
    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12329422

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  4th May 2020

      these are largely the same Police that were around when National was in power.

      So you hate the Govt,hate the Police…call NZ a ‘shithole’ country.

      God knows what you want/expect in…life.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  4th May 2020

        I expect the police to comply with the law, not to play politics or abuse their powers and not to make false statements who ever is in Government. Experience has shown me this cannot be taken for granted.

        You find that unreasonable?

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  4th May 2020

          I did not notice your criticism of the Police when they were time and again shown up not complying when National was in power.
          Executing unlawful search warrants on Nationals political opponents .is a good example.

          Reply
        • Duker

           /  4th May 2020

          Well Simon ‘ballsed up’ the story he had been given about the ‘gang checkpoint in Maketu’
          False statements would say ?
          Was Hosking there or has he relied on someone elses story on what happened …a journalist who never makes an error of course

          “The journalist, despite being an essential worker and allowed to go where they want, was told they couldn’t. Told they couldn’t by a person with no more authority than you or me. The Ngati Kuri spokesperson didn’t regard media as essential. Really? Under what power, law or authority? A police officer, astonishingly, arrived 10 minutes after the journalist.”
          Thats how Hosking put it

          The essential workers fact sheet ( simplified) said

          Some places are still open because
          they make or do things that we need like:
           food
           medicine
           healthcare.
          People who work at these places are
          called essential workers.

          maybe the people in FN didnt get the message about the media being essential

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  4th May 2020

            Tch tch. Another police knee to the groin of the meerkat. What is wrong with these police commander coves, Duker. Do they have any idea wtf is going on out there & what on earth they’re talking about?

            Have you suggested they get Wally involved to muddy the waters completely while they sort out what they’re going to do when the revolution starts?

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  4th May 2020

            Only essential if they are performing seals in Jacinda’s fawning fan club then, Duker? Otherwise should be working from home? Pull the other one.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  4th May 2020

              *fawning female fan club.

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  4th May 2020

            Schedule 2 Part 3 of the current regulation.

            And you don’t remember the fuss about national vs regional newspapers?

            Reply
          • duperez

             /  4th May 2020

            Phew, for a moment there on a quick squiz through, I thought I saw Mike Hosking was an essential worker. The day he is essential is the day we are well and truly stuffed. (I admit I haven’t looked up the definition of journalist.)

            Reply
  6. Mike Lawrey

     /  4th May 2020

    What? No link to the website that actually received the emails and broke the story? Well here you go. Happy to be of help. https://thebfd.co.nz/2020/05/04/exclusive-government-and-police-lockdown-actions-not-legally-supported/

    Reply
    • The Herald/Newstalk ZB also received the emails and broke the story as an ‘exclusive’.

      I don’t check the BFD for news, they’re usually very slow to cover anything new and are very agenda orientated. I check the NZ First website if I want to see what they’re saying.

      Reply
  1. Police Commissioner confident lockdown enforcement was legal — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s