The Bradbury story: ‘unlawful’ access of bank records

This would appear to be big Bomber story, from NZH: Hunt for Rawshark sees police rapped again for ‘unlawful’ search of banking records

Police have again been caught unlawfully harvesting private banking information in the search for the hacker behind the Dirty Politics book.

This time it is activist and journalist Martyn Bradbury who has been drawn into the police investigation.

And this time police inquiries are said to have had an awful impact, leading to two suicidal episodes.

Bradbury’s is the latest case of police unlawfully exploiting the Privacy Act to get personal banking information without getting a court order.

The practice has been ruled unlawful after Bradbury – who runs The Daily Blog website – complained to the Privacy Commissioner.

Bradbury told the NZ Herald he uncovered the police probe after being rejected for credit by his bank.

He said he became suspicious because the “extensions of credit weren’t extravagant and the manner in which the declines occurred just seemed odd”.

When Bradbury sought information through the Privacy Act, he discovered that detectives working on the Rawshark case had made a request for his records saying they were investigating “computer fraud”.

Bradbury had publicly indicated some knowledge of the Rawshark hack of Slater so I guess the Police could have seen him as possibly involved, but illegal access of his bank accounts seems excessive.

Detectives did so quoting a section of the Privacy Act allowing those holding data to ignore people’s privacy if there are “reasonable grounds” to believe it would help “maintenance of the law”.

The ruling from Privacy Commissioner John Edwards found police gave Bradbury’s bank no information to make an assessment of whether the request was “reasonable”.

Edwards rejected police submissions that the request only lacked supporting information for the bank to make a proper decision.

Even if police had provided the information, Edwards said detectives “were not justified” in asking for the banking records without a legal order from a judge.

“It is our view the request for your banking records, given their sensitivity, ought to have been placed before a judicial officer for decision on whether it met the grounds for a production order.”

He said the “nature and the scope of the request was unfair and unreasonably intrusive”.

The request for information was “unlawful” because it was constituted a “search” and the Bill of Rights stated “everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search”.

He said the “nature and the scope of the request was unfair and unreasonably intrusive”.

The request for information was “unlawful” because it was constituted a “search” and the Bill of Rights stated “everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search”.

Bradbury, who insisted he has no connection to or knowledge of the hacking of Slater’s computers, said: “They should have taken it to a judge and got a warrant.”

Instead, they sought “everything they could get their hands on”.

Yes, the police should have got a warrant.

But Bradbury’s claim he had no knowledge of the hacking is interesting. I posted this in October 2014: On Hager and “Dirty Politics and dirty politics

Two days before the launch of Hager’s book left wing activist, blogger and big noter Martyn Bradbury posted:

Here are my 3 guesses on his book.

1 – Right wing spin doctors in Wellington will be crying harder than Matthew Hooton post the Hollow Men.
2 – We won’t hear from the Taxpayer Union for a while.
3 – This won’t be the only time Nicky makes an impact before the election.

When his “guesses” were queried he responded on Twitter:

pfft – Nicky contacted me months ago asking specific questions which helped my guesses – the lesson is read TDB

It is hard to know whether his ‘guesses’ were simply that and he had only vague knowledge, or if they were attempts to disguise any connection to the hack. Bradbury is fairly well known to claim or imply more inside knowledge than anyone trusts him with.

The police may or may not have known of Bradbury’s blowhardness.

Bradbury said the credit requests were to help keep The Daily Blog going and getting knocked back triggered a huge depressive episode.

He said he had lived with depression since suffering a brain injury aged 18 from a car accident.

“Over the last five years that depression has become very difficult to manage and the financial stress of not extending credit all combined in late 2016 in two suicidal episodes.

“When your little black dog morphs and mutates into a huge black bear, you’re looking for anything that will ease the anguish and pain.”

Oh jeez. It’s hard to know what to think or feel about this.

Felix Geiringer, the barrister who acted for Hager overturning the police search warrant, said it was hard to understand any “credible basis” for including Bradbury in the Rawshark inquiry.

He said police appeared to have sought Bradbury’s records to try and establish the hacker was paid to carry out the hack. “There’s no evidence that took place in this case. There’s none.”

Geiringer said Bradbury – like Hager – was a journalist which conveyed specific protections around searches.

Bradbury is a sort of a journalist, similar to Cameron Slater – they investigate and they publish, but they are also political activists and as far as I understand they have both received payment for political work, so journalism and activism get muddy.

It was the same issue which the High Court rapped police in the Hager case, he said.

The NZ Herald has previously shown how police have used the Privacy Act exploit to gain banking details of potentially thousands of people without any court or judicial order – and that at least one bank has used it to red-flag customers.

The practice was widespread when the NZ Herald exposed it in 2013 and saw police headquarters offer assurances that it would not be used to access detailed banking records.

Yet police continued to use the exploit, not only in the Rawshark investigation against Nicky Hager, but in cases identified across the country.

I presume the investigation of Bradbury was some time ago, the Police say “no officers are currently assigned to the investigation” of the Rawshark hack.

I hope Police practices regarding seeking bank records has improved somewhat.


Bradbury took his story to the herald but is still claiming ‘exclusive’ on posts at The Daily Blog.

EXCLUSIVE: The Rawshark Investigation & secret Police mass surveillance program against 100 000 NZers

The NZ Police have lied about the scope of their investigation into who hacked Cameron Slater’s computer. It was originally just Nicky Hager, but it also included myself and possibly several other left wing activists and senior figures within the political left including the Labour Party.

EXCLUSIVE: My case against a secret NZ Police investigation that breached my privacy and my civil rights

It’s not important to like or dislike my work, but I think we can all agree that allowing the Police to conduct secret investigations into activists and political bloggers that then damage their reputation negatively based on spurious grounds isn’t acceptable in a liberal democracy.

Let me start by categorically stating, I never hacked Cameron Slater’s computer and have no idea who hacked Cameron Slater’s computer for the information that appeared in Nicky Hager’s book, ‘Dirty Politics’.

 

Police recently visited Whangarei killer

In a new development in the Whangarei shooting, in which two female property inspectors were shot dead and a maintenance man injured, the police have revealed that they visited the property last month.

RNZ:  Whangarei shooting: Police recently visited killer

Quinn Patterson killed property manager Wendy Campbell, 60, and her 37-year-old daughter Natanya on Wednesday morning when they visited his home with a contractor to install smoke alarms. The contractor was also shot, but managed to escape and raise the alarm.

Northland District Commander Superintendent Russell Le Prou said police investigated a structure being built there last month, and were told it was to be used for target practice.

Police decided it was a tenancy matter, rather than one for them.

Police said the visit to the property formed part of the ongoing investigation into Patterson’s background.

There have been reports that Patterson, aged in his 50s, had multiple guns and other weapons, including grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition.

People using firearms in rural areas is common. There can be many legitimate and innocent reasons for using them.

I wouldn’t mind if police asked to see my firearms license just as a check.

Perhaps if there are any checks on rural properties it should include a check of whether firearms are present and whether there are firearms licenses.

IPCA clear Police on Barclay investigation

At least one complaint was made to the Independent Police Complaints Authority about the police investigation into Todd Barclay in Clutha-Southland. The IPCA has cleared the police.

RNZ: IPCA won’t pursue Barclay investigation complaint

The police watchdog has decided not to pursue a complaint about the handling of last year’s investigation into embattled Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

No charges were laid after several months of inquiries into a recording Mr Barclay was alleged to have made of a staffer in the Gore electorate office.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) received a complaint in June, but said it was satisfied there was no misconduct or neglect by police investigating the case.

It has notified the complainant and the Police Commissioner, and has closed its file.

At the time Mr Barclay declined to co-operate with the police investigation, and it has since been reopened.

The investigation was reopened after Barclay and Bill English made public statements about what happened.

Some people will never have been happy with an outcome like this. Winston Peters has already had a grizzle about it.

Stuff: IPCA clear police of any wrong doing in the handling of the Todd Barclay secret recording investigation

“In my view, the police haven’t satisfactorily answered why they didn’t pursue the case. They had complaints of a recording, they had a complainant and to the best of my knowledge we have not been told who they talked to or didn’t talk to,” Peters said.

“But to say they’re satisfied there was no misconduct is an extraordinary statement to make.”

It’s not extraordinary if they investigated thoroughly and that was the conclusion they came to.

IPCA complaint laid over Barclay investigation

Someone has laid a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority over the handling of the inquiry into Todd Barclay last year.

The Police had reopened their inquiry last week.

Stuff:  Complaint over police handling of Todd Barclay case received by Independent Police Conduct Authority

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has received a complaint about police handling of the original investigation into the allegations of embattled National MP Todd Barclay’s involvement in a secret taping scandal.

Last week police re-opened the case and authority case resolution manager Sarah Goodall said the complaint about the original investigation was received on June 21, sparked by renewed media interest in the case.

It came from someone not personally involved in the case and was thus classified as a “principled complaint,” Goodall said.

“We are currently assessing information in accordance with our normal processes and determining what, if any, action to take,” Goodall said.

I really don’t know what the point of this complaint is. Trying to make a point or pressure the Police into doing more when inquiring into matters involving politicians?

This complaint shouldn’t affect the current inquiry, unless the aim is to apply more pressure on the Police.

Barclay has already lost his political career.  There has already been a confidential employment settlement that seems to have involved a substantial sum of money.

The recording allegation hardly seems to be a major crime – many didn’t realise it was a crime. Video recordings are legal, audio are illegal in some circumstances.

Law on audio and video recordings

The Todd Barclay saga, in which the Police decided not to prosecute Barclay for making audio recordings of an employee in his electorate office in Gore (the Police are currently reviewing that decision) has raised the issue of what can and can’t be legally recorded.

Video recordings are legal:

Surveillance video is common in public and in work places.

The Privacy Commission website states that it is “usually unfair to record someone without telling them”.

Can I record someone without telling them?

Whether making an audio or visual recording of someone without telling them will breach the Privacy Act will depend on the circumstances in each case. In particular, it will depend on who is making the recording and why they are making it.

If you are an individual and you are making a recording in relation to you own personal, domestic or household affairs (for instance you’re recording a personal conversation with a friend), there is an exception which says that, generally, the Privacy Act won’t apply to what you do.

However, if you collect, use or disclose personal information in a way which would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, this exception will not apply. In other words, someone could make a complaint about you.

If you are making the recording for any reason, other than your own domestic, personal or household affairs, the general rules about collection of personal information will apply. In particular, it’s usually unfair to record someone without telling them.

You should also keep in mind that there may be other laws which apply apart from the Privacy Act – for instance, recording a private conversation that you’re not involved in will often be a crime.

That seems to be what Barclay was investigated for.

On usually unfair to record someone without telling them:

Can an agency make a video or audio recording of me without telling me?

Generally speaking, an agency must tell you if it is collecting your personal information.

However, there are some cases where an agency could collect your information without telling you. For instance, it might not have to tell you it was collecting your information if this would undermine the agency’s purpose for collecting the information in the first place, or if it would endanger the safety of any individual.

If you believe an agency has collected your information without telling you, we suggest that you contact the agency and ask to speak to their privacy officer to see if you can resolve any concerns you have about this directly.

If you’re not able to resolve your concerns, and you believe you have suffered some sort of harm as a result of the collection of your information, you can make a complaint to us.

Or make a complaint to the Police, as Glenys Dickson did in the Barclay case.

Andrew Geddis comments on this in It’s not the crime, it’s the coverup

…it’s not an offence to record yourself in conversation with others, even if they don’t know you are doing so. Nor is it an offence to record other people without their knowledge if they are not engaged in a “private communication”.

But the allegation against Barclay is that he left a dictaphone running when he wasn’t in his office so as to record what Dickson was saying in conversations with constituents.

Also in Police take another look at Barclay secret recording investigation

Geddis said the alleged breach in law on which Barclay was investigated needed to tick three boxes to be proved.

The first was there needed to be a recording with an “interception device”, as the law phrased. In this case, he said, the “device” was alleged to be a dictaphone.

Then it needed to be proved it was a private conversation – in this case, said to be the electorate office where Dickson worked.

The third element was proving that the recording was made intentionally, he said.

“If you could prove all three elements, the offence carries a jailable offence of up to two years.”

Conviction to the two-year point is the trigger which forces MPs to resign from Parliament.

Steven Price at Media Law Journal (in reference to the Bradley Ambrose case):

It’s a crime to intentionally intercept a private communication using an interception device. A private communication is one that is made under circumstances that may reasonably taken to indicate that any party to it desires it remain private, but:

does not include such a communication occurring in circumstances in which any party ought reasonably to expect that the communication may be intercepted by some other person not having the express or implied consent of any party to do so.

Although a battalion of journalists were about a metre away behind a window, let’s assume that Key and Banks couldn’t reasonably expect it to be overheard, and that the circumstances indicate that both desired their conversation to remain private.

In an electorate office if the conversation was in an open office where others were present and could hear it then it may not be private. But if Dickson was the only person present then it could be private.

The only issue, then, is whether the interception was intentional. On the paper’s account, it was inadvertent. In fact, it says, the cameraman tried to retrieve his recorder before the conversation but was stopped by Key’s security folk, and didn’t know that the recording was even happening. Now, I don’t know anything more than has been reported. But I wonder whether there is room for doubt about whether the cameraman genuinely didn’t know that the conversation was being recorded.

If it could be established that he did know, then he has committed an offence.

Bill English has said (in the now public police statement) “I had a conversation with him regarding Glenys Dickson leaving his office and he said to me that he had recordings of her criticising him”.

Barclay has said “I have read and Mr English’s statement to the police and accept it.”

“Recordings” is plural. It could be difficult claiming that more than one recording was accidental.

We will find out next week what the Police decide to do and whether they re-open the case or not.

Police release Pike River footage

Police have released 13 hours of robot video footage taken inside the access tunnel of the Pike River Mine. They say there is more to come but have to sort through a lot of material stored in various formats, some of which may be subject to privacy requirements and suppression.


Police release full footage of robot which entered Pike River Mine on 15 March 2011

Friday, 5 May 2017 – Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement

Police has today released over 13 hours of video it holds which were taken by the Western Australia Water Corporation robot which entered the drift of the Pike River mine on 15 March 2011. Selected extracts from this robot footage has been featured in the media this week.

This was the fourth robot entry into the drift, and it was conducted by the Pike River Coal receivers six days after Police handed over control of the mine.

Excerpts from this video were shown at family meetings in July 2011. Relevant sections of notes from family meetings on 9 March 2011 and 16 March 2011 have also been released today, which show discussion by Pike River Coal representatives of the robot’s entry to the mine, and the outcome.

The release of this video is in response to a number of requests, including Official Information Act requests from the families and media.  Police is currently working through the remaining aspects of these various requests, which involves a large amount of imagery and video stored in different data formats and locations.  Police is also mindful of its privacy obligations regarding individuals who appear on many still images, as well as suppression of some material by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, before we can publicly release the remaining material held. We are working to do this as quickly as we can.

We reiterate that Police has been absolutely committed to transparency with the families of the Pike River miners, and no information has been deliberately withheld by Police.

It has always been our approach from the earliest phases of the operation to show imagery and share information to keep the families appraised of the situation at that point in time. Police met with the families on numerous occasions between November 2010 and September 2011 to do this. Given the very large volume of video which was passed to Police, including many hours of the empty drift, boreholes and static video or indistinct imagery, not all footage was shown to families.

As part of these meetings, all families and support people were invited to meetings on 23 and 24 July 2011 in Greymouth and Christchurch. Approximately 25 direct family members attended.   The purpose of this meeting included showing some video which had already been played at previous meetings, as well as more recent footage including some from the 15 March 2011 robot entry.

Up to eight hours of video footage from multiple sources was shown at each of these two meetings. Specific footage from the robot of 15 March 2011 shown to the families included the two workers wearing breathing apparatus in the air-lock at the entrance to the drift with the robot, the two NZ Army robots which entered the drift in November 2010, and the robot pausing to take gas and temperature readings.

Police has also been working through historic records to determine what information held by Police was made available to the Royal Commission of Inquiry. We can confirm that the entire video from the fourth robot was released by Police to the Royal Commission of Inquiry in August 2011.

VIMEO link to robot footage: https://vimeopro.com/user66181559/pike-river-mine(link is external)

Please note the 13 plus hour video is divided into a number of separate files. A small number of files are not in a consecutive time sequence, however this is exactly as they were supplied to police.  There are some blank spaces and duplicate footage, again this is exactly as supplied to Police.


See also on RNZ:  Police did not mislead Pike River families – Deputy Commissioner

The Deputy Police Commissioner has insisted police did not try to mislead the Pike River victims’ families.

Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement told Checkpoint with John Campbell excerpts from the video were shown at family meetings in 2011, including some footage of two workers wearing breathing apparatus in the air-lock at the entrance to the drift with the robot.

He said they had not tried to mislead the families.

“My view of it is that everyone was trying to do exactly the opposite, [which was] to be open and transparent,” he said.

Mr Clement said he accepted there were views held now that that was not the case.

“But I’ve spoken to the staff [involved], they’re as upset as everybody that they’re now being accused of deceiving the family members.”

Anna Osborne, widow of Milton Osborne who died in the mine, said the families were never shown any excerpts of workers inside the drift.

“We would have remembered seeing that,” she said.

She said police were engaging in damage control by publicly releasing footage taken inside the mine.

“I think because the families had received a leaked version of it and because we were making some of it public, the police and the government were quite embarrassed by it all and in the end they had to act,” Ms Osborne said.

I think it is likely that some family members and others will never be satisfied unless the bodies are retrieved, the exact cause of the disaster is proven and some one, or some people or organisations or companies or politicians, are found to be culpable and are punished.

Nash clash on police recruits

Labour’s police spokesperson Stuart Nash received a barrage of criticism for comments he made after agreeing with Police concerns about recruits who use anti-depressants, despite Nash apologising.

Stuff reported: Police, Labour defend ban of recruits on anti-depressants

Police say recruits on anti-depressants pose a risk to the police force, a view the Mental Health Foundation has slammed as unacceptable.

Marty Fox, the police national manager of wellness and safety, defended the policy preventing new recruits on anti-depressants from joining the police, and said patients on anti-depressants were in danger of “spontaneously” relapsing.

That was “a risk for NZ Police”, he said.

Nash agreed:

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesman for police, agreed with the policy saying it protected those with a precondition from harmful situations.

“I think there are enough people out there who would make brilliant police officers without any existing mental health condition.

“Do we want someone with an existing mental health condition in the police force, considering the high degree of stress, week-in week-out, that a lot of these officers face?

“I just think it’s a lot safer for men and women who want to become police, and for our communities, if people who want to enter the police don’t have an existing condition.”

Nash was criticised in the article:

However Mental Health Foundation chief executive Shaun Robinson said Nash’s comments were “simple-minded and unacceptable” and those with mental illnesses often dealt with stress better than those without.

“It is doubly disappointing that a Labour Party spokesperson is trying to defend discrimination and is in fact revealing an extremely disappointing degree of ignorance about mental health.

“If they [people with mental illness] have been supported well then they will have also learned ways to manage stress in order to maintain their health and wellbeing.”

Robinson thought the reasoning was “complete gobbledegook”.

“It is not correct to say that anyone who is on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication that the aim is eventually not be on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication.

Robinson said Ministry of Health surveys indicated one in every two New Zealanders would experience a diagnosable mental illness in their lifetime.

“This is not a small number of people and it is not a small number of people who will be excluded from potentially serving in the police force.”

This criticism was picked up on in social media and Nash was slammed on Twitter. This prompted an apology in response from Nash.

This wasn’t enough for some who continued to gnash their virtual teeth. For example:

Nashgnash

That is criticism from the left.

Fair enough to criticise Nash for jumping in and commenting on a sensitive topic without doing due diligence first.

But it’s refreshing to see a politician own up toy their mistake and apologise.

Social media, and the New Zealand Twitterrati in particular, frequently pile on indiscretions and mistakes, often overstepping in attempts to ridicule, shame and silence people or stances they don’t like.

It would be a real shame if all our politicians carefully checked and sanitised everything they spoke about – there’s far too much of that as it is.

Nash stuffed up – as we all do sometimes – and owned up, which too few politicians are prepared to do, so I think he deserves some credit at least for that rather than being blasted with an ongoing barrage of abuse.

Perhaps Nash operates on his own too much. He should have learnt from this experience. I doubt whether the Twitteratti has though.

Clutha-Southland MP refused to cooperate

The ODT and NZ Herald have dug into the Police investigation into Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, who last year became embroiled in a staff dispute in his electorate.

Their investigation reveals that Barclay refused to cooperate with police

National MP Todd Barclay refused to cooperate with detectives carrying out an investigation into allegations he had secretly recorded staff in his electorate office, according to documents released from the official police investigation.

Instead, Mr Barclay did not return phone messages left for him by the lead detective on the inquiry and had a lawyer contact police to say he would not be making a statement.

Mr Barclay had earlier told the Otago Daily Times: “If they do contact me on any matter, then I will co-operate fully.”

The police investigation was into whether Mr Barclay had breached a section of the Crimes Act around “use of interception devices”.

There were no charges laid following the 10-month long investigation with police eventually stating there was insufficient evidence.

The police investigation file was released through the Official Information Act and gives a detailed account of the breakdown in relations between staff working in the Clutha-Southland and Mr Barclay, who took over the seat from Prime Minister Bill English in 2014.

The investigation file includes a statement from Detective Inspector Antony Hill detailing attempts he had made to arrange an interview with Mr Barclay about the allegations.

He said he was brought in to manage the investigation in March last year and contacted Mr Barclay twice in July 2016 to request an interview about the claims which had been made.

The first attempt to contact Mr Barclay by telephone took place on July 12 2016 with Det Insp Hill’s call going to an answer message. He was sent a text saying Mr Barclay was out of the country until July 29 2016.

On July 29 2016, Det Insp Hill tried to reach Mr Barclay and again left a message. His statement reads: “I subsequently received a call from Mr Barclay’s solicitor advising he would not be making a statement in relation to this investigation.”

That in itself is a recommended way to respond to an investigation.

But Barclay misled the public.

While Mr Barclay had earlier said he would cooperate with police, he later said he had not spoken with detectives.

In November, he said: “I have not spoken to the police about any alleged complaint. Parliamentary Services is responsible for staffing issues so, at the end of the day, they are the employer and it’s not appropriate for them, or me, to be talking about employment matters.”

Asked directly if police had asked to speak with him, he said: “As I have made clear, I have not spoken to the police about any alleged complaint.”

That was a crooked answer, what is clear is that he was deliberately misleading.

What was known already is that Barclay had an ugly falling out with some of his electorate staff. Perhaps that was due to his (young) age and inexperience, and perhaps some arrogance as well.

He has got away with this mess and will hopefully have learnt from it.

The ODT report goes into a lot of detail in Barclay refused to cooperate with police.

 

Bill English on ‘social investment’

In his ‘state of the nation’ speech Bill English explained how his ‘social investment’ approach was used to justify an increase in police numbers and resources.

As a politician and a member of the community I’ve seen lives turned around by quiet heroism in our families, schools and public services. I’ve also seen lives blighted by poor public services, bad decisions, neglect and bureaucratic inertia.

What this demonstrates is that good intentions do not, on their own, guarantee success. If all our social problems could be solved by throwing money at them, then we would have no more social problems because we’ve been throwing money at them for a long time.

What makes a difference to people’s lives is effective support. Until recently, identifying what genuinely helps people has been somewhat hit and miss, but today we’re able to analyse data in ways that didn’t exist a few years ago.

That analysis demonstrates the lifelong benefits of intervening early to help people in need and the lifelong costs of not doing so.

Some New Zealanders need ongoing support to help them lead a decent life. But there are many more who will benefit from smart, light-handed support. And then, they will move on.

Our goal is to help them do so.

Spending more public money is not, in itself, an achievement.

Real achievement is reducing welfare dependency, getting better results for our kids at school, preventing rheumatic fever, and reducing waiting times at hospital emergency departments.

We call our new approach social investment and it’s showing promising results in several areas, but the recent rise in the prison population confirms we’ve got more work to do.

That is why we are investing more in police.

This makes sense to me. Spending more taxpayer money in the short term can have longer term benefits, not just for the budget but also for New Zealand society.

A ‘social investment’ approach, which is effectively research based targeted spending, has it’s critics, but I think if it is done right it is hard to argue with.

UPDATE: a Dom Post editorial this morning is more sceptical – Bill English’s mixed bag

There are certainly still questions about “social investment”, including a new sort of technocratic over-confidence it seems to imply. Even English’s own measures need care: he brags about the diminished numbers of people on benefits, for instance, which might be evidence of a successful policy – or a merely punitive one. But it is at the very least an interesting, coherent approach to government spending. He should flesh it out with more convincing policies.

What’s not convincing about spending more on policing to reduce what are substantial financial and social costs of crime?

English announces Police package

In his ‘state of the nation’ speech Prime Minister Bill English announced a major boost to Police numbers.

This is National’s first pitch at voters in election year, and shows an advantage for the party leading Government – they can do things as opposed to just promising them subject to agreement from possible coalition partners.

Today I announced a new $503 million Safer Communities package to reduce crime and prevent reoffending. Over the next four years the package will fund an additional 1125 police staff, including 880 sworn police officers.

The extra investment will make police more visible and more responsive but, equally importantly, it will enable police to put more time and effort into working alongside other agencies to address the underlying drivers of dysfunction. That’s because we are learning more about what makes a difference to people’s lives.

…we are investing more in police. According to the 2016 Global Peace Index, New Zealand is the fourth-safest country in the world, but demand for traditional police services is growing, and complex and serious crime is absorbing more police time.

The extra investment will enable police to devote more resources to addressing the causes of social problems, not just respond to the symptoms.

In addition to increasing police numbers, the package provides:

  •  A new national 24/7 phone number for non-emergencies.
  •  More staff for up to 20 regional and rural police stations so that 95 per cent of the population lives within 25 kilometres of a 24/7 police presence.
  •  More specialist investigators for child protection, sexual assault, family violence and other serious crime.
  •  Additional resources to deal with burglaries, youth offending and other community crimes; and
  •  More officers to target organised crime.

All 12 police districts will receive extra sworn officers. Police will determine how many will go where, based on the police’s operational requirements.

The package also comes with a range of challenging performance targets for police. Those include higher attendance at home burglaries, more assets seized from organised crime, fewer deaths from family violence and a reduction in reoffending by Maori.

The targets won’t be easy to meet – but we don’t shy away from hard issues.

It’s not surprising to see an increase in police numbers but this is a significant boost.

A phone number for non-emergency contact is a simple but long overdue addition. The 111 system is inundated with non-emergency calls in part because it is difficult to know how to contact the police otherwise.