831 new frontline Police officers in financial year

A record number of Police officers were trained in the 2018/19 financial year with 831 new front line officers deployed around the country. Since the Coalition Government was formed there have been 1,367 new recruits have graduated.  Some of those will have been planned under the previous government, but the new government has boosted those numbers.

This looks to be well on it’s way to fulfilling a commitment made in the Labour-NZ First Coalition Agreement:

Law and order

  • Strive towards adding 1800 new Police officers over three years and commit to a serious
    focus on combatting organised crime and drugs.

Government: Greatest number of new Police in a single year

Police Minister Stuart Nash says the graduation of 78 new constables means a total of 831 new frontline Police have been deployed to communities around the country during the 2018/19 financial year.

“The previous highest number of new Police in one financial year occurred 21 years ago when 683 officers graduated during 1997/98,” says Mr Nash.

“Since the Coalition Government was formed 1,367 new recruits have graduated from the Police College at Porirua and from two innovative training wings in Auckland.

“The Wellbeing Budget contains more than $260 million in new initiatives for Police. Thanks to this new investment, Police can strengthen controls on the use of firearms. They will be able to take the most dangerous weapons out of circulation and begin the next stage of reforms to reduce the risk of firearms falling into the wrong hands.”

The new initiatives for Police include:

  • $168 million for payments and administration of the gun buyback scheme;
  • $41.8 million to tackle family violence;
  • $5.86 million for victim video statements;
  • $37.19 million to provide all emergency services (Police, Fire, Ambulance) with state of the art new digital communications capabilities and to ensure the integrity of the current system in the interim;
  • $8.778 million for other initiatives across the wider justice sector, such as mental health, addiction and alcohol and drug programmes.

“In addition we are making a substantial investment of $455 million in frontline mental health services. Police officers have been under pressure because a lack of health resources meant they were the first line of response to mental health needs. Improving mental health care is one of our long-term challenges,” Mr Nash says.

The boost in mental health services has taken longer to implement, but it should take pressure off police resources, and will hopefully reduce crime committed by people with mental health issues.

More charges including terrorism laid against Christchurch terrorist

The police have laid more charges against the man accused of the Christchurch massacres, Brendon Tarrant, including a terrorism charge.

NZ Police: Further charges filed following March 15 attack in Christchurch

Police have met with victim’s families and survivors of the March 15 Christchurch attack to inform them of new charges which have been filed, and update them on the ongoing Police investigation plus the court process to come.

A charge of engaging in a Terrorist Act under section 6A of the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002 has now been filed against Brenton Tarrant.

The charge will allege that a terrorist act was carried out in Christchurch on 15 March 2019 and follows consultation between Police, Crown Law and the Christchurch Crown Solicitors Office.

An additional murder charge and two additional attempted murder charges have also been filed.

51 charges of murder, 40 of attempted murder and one charge under the Terrorism Suppression Act have now been filed against Tarrant.

Just over 200 people attended the meeting this afternoon in Christchurch.

It was led by Detective Superintendent Peter Read and Detective Superintendent Dave Lynch who are joint Senior Investigation Officers, as well as Superintendent John Price, Canterbury District Commander. Also present were Detective Inspector Greg Murton, officer in charge of the investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Sarah Illingworth who is managing the family liaison process for Police and a number of Court Victims Advisers.

Police are committed to providing all the support necessary for what will be a challenging and emotional court process to come for the victim’s families and survivors of the attack.

As the case is before the courts no further commentary on the charges will be made by Police, Crown Law or the Christchurch Crown Solicitors office.

Edgeler added:

The murder charges are still there. It’s not an all or nothing risk.

I think this is the right decision. If convicted it shouldn’t make much if any difference to the sentence, which would surely have to be the most severe handed down in a modern New Zealand court as the seriousness of the crime is unprecedented, but the police should not decide against the most serious charge for fear of the defendant grandstanding in court. There are ways that the court can deal with that.

MP requires protection after escalation in death threats, but abuse continues

Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman now requires a security escort after an escalation in threats being made against her.

She has attracted a lot of attention in social media, and some of it from bad to despicable. I get it that some people don’t like some of what she champions and proposes, but there is no excuse for the levels of abuse she has been subjected to.

Even after the police protection was publicised there were people on Twitter blaming her for attracting abuse, and making excuses for abuse.

RNZ: Green MP Golriz Ghahraman gets security escort

Greens MP Golriz Ghahraman will have a security escort with her whenever she leaves Parliament after her security risk was escalated by police.

Ms Ghahraman said it came after a Newshub story about white supremacy revealed she was being talked about in a dangerous manner.

Her safety was put at further risk after comments made by the ACT leader David Seymour that she was a “real menace to freedom in this country”, she said.

“As you can imagine, it’s distressing to have secret white supremacist groups talking about you and to have that escalated to the level of the mainstream and I think it kind of gives us all a feeling of how those targeted communities feel.”

However, Mr Seymour disputed her safety was put at risk by his comments.

“She’s someone who gives back as good, if not a lot more, than she gets in political debate.”

Seymour has got himself into a precarious situation with this. He has helped feed to abusers and conspiracy theorists.

But he said nobody in this country deserved to be threatened with violence and no MP should have to shrink from political debate because some people were thugs and bullies.

He should take a good look at the rhetoric and escalating abuse that he has become a part of.

Scott Hamilton RTM @SikotiHamiltonR:

Seymour’s words about resonated with a conspiracy theory that’s been growing amongst conservative Pakeha since March the 15th. Visitors to the popular facebook page of former Act adman John Ansell can see the conspiracy in full bloom. Ansell & co believe that a slow moving coup d’etat began on March the 15th.

As bizarre as it sounds, they consider the atrocities of that day a ‘false flag operation’, designed to legitimise the elimination of democracy by Ardern’s ‘communist’ government. Ansell & co think they’re targets.

When Seymour called a menace to freedom, b/c she has been advocating law changes after March the 15th, his words were treated by Ansell & his fellow paranoics as further evidence of a coup d’etat & coming civil war. Seymour’s feeding some worrying delusions

There are already claims that Ghahraman requiring protection is a set up as part of a conspiracies that have been spreading – for more see Wacky conspiracies being pushed at Whale Oil.

@fhill16n Twitter:

Just to build on the conspiracy angle I see there’s a theory going around that Golriz’s need for security is being faked / overstated and is being driven by the “left-wing media” and our “communist government”

If anyone tries any of that sort of ‘speculation’ or conspiracy mongering here without any evidence to back up what they claim they will find they are not welcome here.

Since 15 March there has been a noticeable lift in abuse and making excuses for abuse.

Ghahraman has brought some criticism on herself with some of what she has claimed and proposed, but that is no reason to excuse an escalation in abuse. This is a worrying  in New Zealand politics.

 

A ‘top secret list’ of people being monitored by the police

This should be no surprise – Stuff reports that the police have a ‘top secret list’ (as it should be) of people they are monitoring, including “white supremacists, Muslim converts and people left disgruntled by the Christchurch terror attack” and “disaffected” people with firearm licences, and others with racist and radical views.

As long as there are genuine concerns about these people and the police are operating legally this should be a reassuring thing?

Stuff – Christchurch terror attack: More than 100 people being monitored by police

More than 100 people – including white supremacists, Muslim converts and people left disgruntled by the Christchurch terror attack – are being actively monitored by police.

Stuff has obtained part of a top secret list that names those who are of concern to police following the March 15 terror attack. Stuff has chosen not to name anyone on the list or contact them for security reasons.

It should be a given that Stuff doesn’t name anyone on the list, it would be highly reckless and inappropriate to do so.  Stuff seems have made a habit of praising themselves for doing what is expected (and required) of media.

The list, which is understood to have included more than 100 people, includes “disaffected” people with firearm licences, and others with racist and radical views. Police appear to be placing a large focus on social media, with one person making it onto the list for posting “concerning information”, including how to make their own live feed on social media.

Police deputy commissioner Mike Clement…

…told Stuff the operation was designed to reassure New Zealanders.

This includes raising awareness through increased visibility on the streets, and visits to thousands of schools, religious places, businesses and community centres.

“While the number of reports has increased since the Christchurch attack, fundamental to being safe and feeling safe is the willingness of people to report behaviours that concern them.

“As a result of the help of the community [we have] spoken with many individuals across New Zealand and in a few instances interventions including arrests have been undertaken.”

Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price…

…also declined to comment on the list’s existence, but confirmed there was a group of people whose actions and behaviour had concerned police. He said the intelligence phase of the operation was focused on trying to understand other people who are of interest in the community.

“There may be some concerns around their ideologies, or the fact they may have access to illegal firearms, so that’s a large part of that, determining and then acting on that information”.

I think that if the police are aware of illegal firearms and access to them then they should be acting on that, not just monitoring them.

“A lot of it is generated through people telling us, looking through social media and other information streams that come into the mix. You scan your information sources, you then analyse those information sources and get to a point you can assess the risk of the threat level.”

“If we consider that people may have access to illegal firearms that would raise a concern, it may be that the people are expressing views that we may think is not aligned with our way as New Zealanders”.

“If we think there’s an inherent risk through that intel we will act on it depending on how considered the threat is to the community as a whole.”

Not surprisingly, there is nothing much new about this apart from increased efforts after the mosque killings.

The intelligence model was nothing new, with police regularly using it for other areas of heightened focus to establish more informed information, including family harm, burglaries, volume crime and organised crime.

Clement asked that people remained “vigilant”.

“Be aware of your surroundings and if you see something that doesn’t look right or is suspicious, report it to police. We would sooner investigate those concerns in a preventative way even if those concerns were unfounded.”

If any of your saw things said of concern online would you report it to the police?


More from Gezza:

A Wellington convert who describes himself as “probably the most radical Muslim” in the city says he is happy to co-operate with police and understands their concern.

The man, in his 30s, said he was probably on a top secret list, obtained by Stuff, that names some of more than 100 people police are monitoring since the March 15 attack.

https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/christchurch-shooting/112302738/radical-muslim-convert-happy-for-police-to-do-due-diligence

Eight stolen firearms recovered

The police were embarrassed when 11 firearms that had been surrendered were stolen in a burglary of the Palmerston North police station. Not surprisingly they have worked hard to locate the stolen weapons. They have now recovered 8 of them.

Two days ago:- Police hunt for man who stole 11 firearms from Palmerston North police station

Police are urgently seeking a 38-year-old man after weapons – some handed in for destruction – were stolen from the Palmerston North police station.

Acting Central District Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart said police were embarrassed about the theft, and it shouldn’t have happened.

She said the police would do everything they can to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Ms Stewart said people should still have faith in the ability of police to keep recently banned firearms safely secured during the gun amnesty period.

Police are looking for Alan James Harris in relation to the burglary. He was known to police through previous dealings with him, she said.

Police and Armed Offenders Squad staff have searched Palmerston North properties over the past 24 hours as part of the ongoing investigation.

The burglary occurred early on Thursday morning. Police say a member of staff disturbed a person in the yard area of the police station around 7.40am. They say he left the scene in a vehicle, which police have since recovered along with another vehicle linked to the same person.

Commissioner Mike Bush has directed an investigation be conducted into how an offender was able to gain access to the police station, as well as an immediate audit on security around firearms at all stations nationwide.

Yesterday: Alan James Harris arrested

Police have arrested Alan James Harris who was being sought following a burglary at the Palmerston North police station on Thursday morning.

Harris was arrested without incident in Palmerston North in the early hours of Saturday morning.

He was identified by a member of the public in the central city and Police were immediately notified.

Today:

Eight stolen firearms recovered in Palmerston North

Eight firearms have been recovered by police following a burglary at the Palmerston North police station on Thursday 25 April.

The eight firearms were recovered in Palmerston North earlier today as part of the ongoing investigation into the burglary.

Locating the three remaining firearms which are still unaccounted for continues to be a high priority for Central District police.

Of the 11 firearms taken in the burglary, one was unlawful under the new Government legislation. This weapon is among the eight which have been recovered today.

The remaining firearms were older guns and a BB gun which were not covered under the new legislation but were awaiting destruction, or were being held as exhibits.

Acting Central District Commander Inspector Sarah Stewart says police are very focused on securing the remaining three firearms.

“We continue to appeal for anyone with information to contact us.  You can speak to Palmerston North police directly on 0800 351 3600 or you can provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”

“The investigation team has worked tirelessly throughout the weekend and they will continue to do so,” says Ms Stewart.

A 38-year-old man appeared in the Palmerston North District Court yesterday charged with burglary and was remanded in custody until 21 May.

A dumb crime to commit unless he wanted to be caught.

 

Police re-investigating home invasion assault after complaint by Blomfield

Police are re-investigating a 2014 home invasion in which Matthew Blomfield was seriously assaulted, including being shot at in front of his family. The assailant was caught through  a DNA match, convicted and imprisoned, but the motive was never disclosed. Blomfield has complained to the police that others may have been involved, but until recently they have not done much to investigate.

This is detailed in David Fisher’s latest Big Read:  The blogger and the businessman – how the police failed, and new inquiries into a vicious home invasion

I’m familiar with a lot of the history covered in this. I have posted here about the attacks against Blomfield on Whale Oil, the long defamation case that resulted in Cameron Slater being found in October 2018 by a judge to have no defence (Slater recently withdrew an appeal), the illegal use of private data when a hard drive was supplied to Blomfield, and a number of other related things.

I have also posted about the assault on Blomfield. What is new are the claims of police inaction in investigating, and the current re-investigating.

Remember how quickly the police investigated Nicky Hager after a complaint by Slater that he had been hacked? The police overstepped in their raid on Hager’s home and obtaining bank information, for which they have since apologised for and paid compensation.

Remember how the police investigated and prosecuted Ben Rachinger after a complaint by Slater? And how, when Slater was prosecuted for trying procure a hack of The Standard, the police gave him diversion after Slater accepted guilt (but soon after posted that his contrition was not genuine).

Blomfield seems to have had a lot more difficulty getting the police to investigate for him, on complicity in the assault, and in how Slater got thehard drive. This has ended up resulting in a complaint to Independent Police Conduct Authority, and the re-opening of an investigation.

Blomfield’s complaints to police began in April 2012 when he told police Slater had obtained a hard drive with his personal and business information. Slater used the material as the basis of a series of blog posts over the next six months which led to the seven-year defamation action.

Blomfield’s interaction with police over the next four years included complaints about the hard drive, being interviewed as the victim of a home invasion which took place in April 2014 and a further complaint after his computer was hacked – possibly on more than one occasion.

Blomfield complained to the Independent Police Conduct Authority over police handling of complaints, leading to a review of police files identified areas that “warrant further police investigation”.

Detective Inspector Hayden Mander followed with a letter in December 2017 in which he said there had been multiple failures by police investigating a range of complaints.

On the hard drive:

He said there was “little comprehension” the first complaint about the hard drive could be seen as a possible crime involving the use of the data.

“Having reviewed the file, I believe there was a failure from the outset in comprehending the complexity of this investigation; in that it might be something other than a theft or burglary.

“Once computer crime was considered, there are gaps in the investigation and there was a lack of comprehensive assessment of the criminal culpability of the persons of interest that were identified during the inquiry.”

Mander, who has since left the police, said a specific complaint of “computer crime” had been made by Blomfield at the time. He said there was no evidence it had been investigated and no victim statement had been taken.

He said there needed to be a new investigation into the use of the hard drive and whether it was a “computer crime”.

There is an irony over Slater using the hard drive data to post a series of attacks on Blomfield on Whale Oil – Slater has long claimed bitterly about being hacked and data obtained being used to discredit him.

Mander also said police had not properly investigated a complaint by Blomfield made in 2014 after emails of his post-dating the hard drive were published online. The emails were from a password-protected cloud service, leading Blomfield to complain his information had been hacked.

On the assault:

Mander’s letter said there were further failures by police, including around a terrifying assault on Blomfield at his Greenhithe home in April 2014.

The incident saw Ned Tehuru Paraha, now 41, enter the home where Blomfield and his family live, face covered with a Spiderman mask and carrying a shotgun.

During the assault which followed, Paraha fired a shotgun at Blomfield on at least two occasions. One of Blomfield’s young daughters hid inside while the other saw her father – and for a period, her mother – fight back against the invader until he was forced to flee.

Blomfield was left seriously injured as a result of the assault, and has since testified as to the lasting damage the attack had on his and his family’s feeling of safety and security in their own home.

Paraha was caught a month later and pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to injure, aggravated burglary and assault with intent to injure. He was sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison.

Mander said the “front end” of the investigation – Paraha’s identification through DNA and conviction – was carried out properly.

No reason or motive was disclosed.

“However, it was acknowledged from those conducting the police investigation and from yourself that others were likely responsible for the planning of this offending.

“To date, no-one else has been held to account for this offending.

“Despite you advising police of your suspicions that specific people were involved in the planning of this offending, these avenues of inquiry have never been followed up. Further, you have provided police with other lines of inquiry that remain on the file but have not been completed.”

Mander said there was a “clear need” to investigate parts of the incident.

He states that the police did obtain phone records that at least indicated others had prior knowledge of the home invasion, but didn’t act on this information.

In the recording, Mander said a production order had been used during the earlier investigation to access an individual’s phone records.

He told Blomfield police “didn’t really do a very good job of examining the data it produced”.

Mander said he had examined the phone traffic and seen contact the days before, the day of and the day after the assault which needed further investigation.

Blomfield claims that Slater knew about the attack and thinks the police should have south information from him (he doesn’t allege that Slater was directly involved).

Blomfield said he believed there was reason for police to speak with Slater in relation to the attack and had previously provided information which should have been acted on.

He said a comment made by Slater in the High Court precinct at Auckland, prior to a June 2016 judicial settlement conference, suggested Slater had knowledge as to where Paraha had obtained the shotgun used in the attack.

Blomfield said it was confirmation Slater had received information about the attack and the email was passed to police. He received a response saying: “Your email is noted and has been added to the file.”

A file that seems to have had more cobwebs than police attention.

Blomfield said he since received information anonymously from someone describing themselves as the hacker Rawshark, the identity used by the person who hacked Slater’s computer in 2014 then passed the contents to journalist Nicky Hager. The hacked material was used as the basis for the book Dirty Politics.

He said the information provided to him – which matches information supplied to and printed by the Herald in 2014 – gave him cause for concern over Slater’s attitude towards him.

The Rawshark files included social media correspondence between Slater and contacts developed through the blog. Some of the content from late 2013 reflected the defamation action was placing Slater under increased pressure.

In other messages in November 2013, Slater told the contact he believed gang members were looking for Blomfield in relation to money owed on behalf of a family member. It is unknown if there was any basis for this belief.

In the message, Slater says: “they are now looking for him … I know where he is and where he works if they want to find him … name is Matthew Blomfield”.

In another message, previously unreported, Slater tells the same contact: “Can you find out who wants to bash blomfield … I can help them find him.”

Slater has testified since he embellished claims made in conversations obtained by Rawshark. There is no evidence in the Rawshark material Slater’s conversation turned into actions in the real world.

The month after the messages, on December 14 2013, Slater posted to his blog a copy of a district court decision from the defamation case which included a cover letter with Blomfield’s home address.

In a blog post which has since been deleted, the blog’s administrator wrote: “I wouldn’t want to be Mr Blomfield for the next 10 years. The other side of Karma is coming.”

It seems that Karma has been catching up on Slater, with a series of losses in defamation proceedings, bankruptcy and a stroke (a common cause being stress).

Blomfield has said he believed the attack was somehow connected to the Whaleoil blog posts, although is definite in saying there is no evidence directly linking it to Slater.

On the Whaleoil blog, Slater has rejected any connection between his website and the attack. In a post, since deleted, he pointed to Paraha’s gang connections and said he doubted any of his readers mixed in such circles.

It was claimed in a comment here on Your NZ last October that gang members were present outside the court on the day of a hearing  on the Blomfield v Slater defamation. A name other than Slater’s (but in his circle) was associated with this.

Blomfield told the Herald there were lines of inquiry police should have pursue in relation to most complaints, yet did not.

He said the home invasion in 2014, during which he was shot at least two times, was never properly investigated.

“Someone sent this guy to do this.” Blomfield said the delay in the investigation meant evidence would have decayed. “It now seems that (information) is going to be lost.”

He said there was no sensible reason for a Tribesman-affiliated gang member from Manukau, to whom he had no links or connection, to come to his Greenhithe home firing a loaded shotgun.

“It would be totally reasonable to ask the Police why it is taking so long and when that investigation will be completed.”

But Blomfield and his lawyer claims that the police have continued to do little to investigate.

Barrister Felix Geiringer, who was Blomfield’s lawyer in the defamation case, said the lack of action by police was shocking yet even more so given the police review appeared to show an officer had acted in a way which prevented a proper investigation taking place.

He said the home invasion offending was criminal behaviour at the most serious end of the scale and it was “terrifying” police could “so easily decide not to take basic investigative steps”.

Geiringer said there was a clear lack of urgency which included delays with the fresh investigation.

“Six months after informing Matt that they had never properly investigated the attempt on his life, a newly appointed investigator informed Matt that he had not yet read the file.

“Over 18 months later, and the Police have still not decided what further action, if any, they intend to take.

“Matt and his family have never felt safe since the attack. They don’t feel that the New Zealand police have any interest in protecting them. Who could blame them?”

I for one can’t blame them. I was dragged into this long running feud and attacks via blog posts and the courts.

I have had what could be construed as implied death threats. I have had my address and photo of my home posted on a website that ran a series of attacks on me, and incorrectly linked me with Blomfield. I believe that people in Slater’s circle of associates were involved (they and Slater were definitely involved in vexatious legal actions against me).

Emails on the court file show the meeting, with former business associates of Blomfield, saw discussion focused on targeting Blomfield in a scheme called “Operation Bumslide”.

In the chain of emails between the conspirators, there was a joke about Blomfield being raped and one in which an associate of Slater’s made disparaging sexual remarks about Blomfield’s wife.

So far Slater has borne the brunt of Blomfield’s fight back via the defamation, and he is the only one named in Fisher’s article.

The impression I get from this latest ‘big read’ from Fisher is that Slater may be able to help the police with their inquiries, if they ever make proper inquiries. Perhaps ‘an associate of Slater’s’ (or more) could also warrant some investigation. So far they have managed to leave Slater to cop most of the fallout. It looks to me like Slater may have been used as a ‘useful idiot’ in what started as a business feud against Blomfield.

Things can hardly get much worse for Slater, but others who have so far escaped being held to account may find things getting awkward for them if the police start doing their job properly.

Royal Commission of Inquiry into security agencies

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the country’s security agencies, in response to the Christchurch terror attacks.

RNZ:  Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announces details of inquiry into security services

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced details of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into security agencies after the Christchurch mosque attacks.

She said, while New Zealanders and Muslim communities were still grieving, they were also quite rightly asking questions about how the terror attack was able to take place.

The inquiry will look at what could or should have been done to prevent the attack, Ms Ardern said.

It will look at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB), the Security Intelligence Service (SIS), police, Customs, Immigration and any other relevant agencies, Ms Ardern said.

The Government Communications Security Bureau (GSCB) and the Security Intelligence Service (SIS) have been criticised over an apparent lack of monitoring of right-wing extremists.

It may be that there was little or nothing that could have been done to protect against this month’s attacks, but it is good to check out the performance of the security agencies, the GCSB, the SIS and the Police. It should ensure that the chances of a repeat are lessened.

 

NZ banks’ terms & conditions for handing customer data to the police

Nicky Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer  asks: What do New Zealand’s leading banks say in their terms and conditions about handing their customers’ data to Police and other Govt agencies?

They say they will hand over customer to data in breach of Privacy Act. Westpac have apologised to Hager and have promised to change their terms

But the other major banks have made vague assertions that they will not breach customer privacy but still have dodgy terms, and have not made a commitment to change their terms to comply with the law.

Regardless of views about Hager’s use of hacked data, this is an important issue for everyone.

Via Twitter @BarristerNZ:

There has been significant publicity over Westpac’s decision to hand Nicky Hager’s data to Police. But this issue was never limited to Westpac.

A study conducted by the OPC in 2015 suggested that our financial institutions might have been releasing to Govt the data of close to 10,000 customers per annum without a warrant / production order.

Possibly close to 10,000 customers each year! And this appears to have been happening for over a decade.

Plus, all our banks, not just Westpac, had entered into a written agreement with NZ Police to give over customers data without warrants or productions orders.

Basically, all our banks promised Police that they would breach the Privacy Act if Police asked them to. And it looks like Police may have made many thousands of such requests.

Westpac said to Hager that its terms permitted the release. The OPC rejected the argument that those terms could be relied upon. However, Westpac terms, on their face, did set a much lower bar for releasing data than our Privacy or Search and Surveillance legislation.

Westpac have apologised for its breach, and it has also promised to change its terms. There will now be an enforceable contractual promise from that bank to customers that it will not do this again.

What about other banks?

I am told that in answer to journalists’ questions some other banks have made vague assertions that they will not breach customer privacy. But what do their terms actually say?

Kiwibank’s terms are very similar to the ones Westpac had at the time of the Hager release.

Kiwibank’s terms assert that, by banking with it, you authorise it to release your data to Police whenever Kiwibank thinks it will help Police with an investigation.

That test bypasses the protections that parliament has put in place which limit releases to circumstances where Police can objectively establish reasonable grounds to believe the data is evidence of a crime.

ANZ’s terms are almost the same again, arguably even looser. It says that by banking with it you agree that it can give your data to Police if it believes that doing so will help prevent crime.

ASB’s terms are more open to interpretation. It can release data to Police when required to by law. There can be no objection to that. But it can also release data in a variety of other circumstances.

ASB’s terms define the purposes for which it is holding your data to include to “investigate illegal activity”. The terms allow release to 3rd parties for this purpose. However, the Govt isn’t expressly listed as one of those 3rd parties.

If the list of 3rd parties in ASB’s terms is read as a closed list, it arguably has the best terms. If it is not read as a closed list, then it has one of the worst terms.

BNZ’s terms are clear, and are clearly the worst of those discussed here. Its terms claim that you have authorised it to share your data with Police or other Govt agencies for the purpose of detecting any crime.

The circumstances of release permitted by BNZ’s terms are astoundingly broad. Those terms have little regard for the duty to protect the secrecy of BNZ’s customers’ information.

I haven”t analysed TSB’s terms.

So, there you have it, and I think that this raises serious questions. We know the NZ banks were doing a very bad job of protecting our private data. They say they are doing better now, but are they?

And, if these banks are now not handing over data to Police without a warrant or production order, why is this still not reflected in their terms?

Principle 11, Privacy Act 1993 – 6 Information privacy principles: Limits on disclosure of personal information

 

Westpac apologises and settles with Nicky Hager over privacy breach

Westpac have apologised to Nicky Hager and agree to pay costs and compensation, settling a complaint by Nicky Hager when Westpac illegally provided the police with banking data when investigating the hack of Cameron Slater (breaching his privacy) that contributed to the book Dirty Politics.

Hager’s lawyer Felix Geiringer:

Nicky Hager has settled his privacy dispute with Westpac with the Bank agreeing to change its terms. Full media statement below.

NZ Herald details Westpac’s apology in Westpac admits breaching Nicky Hager’s privacy by giving records to police

Westpac said in a statement its new policy now required a production order from authorities before releasing private information, except in “extremely limited circumstances” such as Police searches for missing persons.

“We apologise to Hager for our part in the distress these events have caused him and his family”.

“Westpac’s practice at that time was to comply with such requests in the belief that it was entitled to do so under the Privacy Act. However, in the light of the public discussion of Hager’s and other cases, it is clear that bank customers reasonably expect that in similar circumstances such data will be kept private.”

While this is a victory for Hager it is also a win for privacy in general and proper police investigation processes.

The police have already apologised and settled:  Police apologise to Nicky Hager

In a settlement with far-reaching implications, the New Zealand Police have apologised to Nicky Hager for multiple breaches of his rights arising from their 2014 investigation into Dirty Politics.

Nicky Hager’s home was raided by Police in October 2014. The raid was part of an investigation into the source of Nicky Hager’s book, Dirty Politics. In 2015, the High Court ruled that the warrant that was used for the raid was “fundamentally unlawful”. However, many more alleged breaches of Mr Hager’s rights were left to be resolved at a later hearing.

In today’s settlement, Police have accepted that they did not have reasonable grounds for the search, that they attempted to breach Mr Hager’s journalistic privilege in multiple ways, and that they unlawfully obtained his private information from third parties including his bank. [The full Police statement is included below.]

“This is a very important agreement,” said Mr Hager. “The Police have admitted that many things they did in their investigation and search were unlawful. This sends a vital message that people can share important information with journalists with confidence that their identities will be protected. The Police have apologised for threatening that confidentiality and trust.”

As part of the settlement Mr Hager is to receive substantial damages and a substantial contribution to his legal costs. Mr Hager said “Under the agreement, I am not allowed to name the figure. However, it gives the strongest possible indication that Police accept the harm they caused and are much less likely to treat a journalist this way again. The money will help support important work in years to coming.”

During a 10-hour search of his home in 2014, Mr Hager claimed journalistic source protection privilege. He later learned that Police officers breached express promises made during the search and photographed privileged documents to use in their investigation. Police also sought to circumvent Mr Hager’s rights to source protection by obtaining his private information from third parties such as Air New Zealand, Qantas, PayPal, Customs, WestPac, Vodafone, and Two Degrees. Luckily, none of this succeeded in exposing any sources.

“This has been a long fight, but we stuck at it because we believe what we were fighting for was important,” Mr Hager said. “I want to thank my legal team and all of the people around New Zealand who have cared about the case and supported it over the last three and a half years”.

There are other questions raised in this about the speed and degree police investigated Hager after a complaint by Slater, compared to how the police have dealt with complaints made against Slater, for example the soliciting of a hack of The Standard, which Slater admitted in being offered (by police) and getting diversion despite having had diversion previously.

 

Police refuse to reveal any details of Dowie text inquiry

A police investigation into an alleged crime committed by a Member of Parliament is newsworthy – especially when the complainant or claimed victim is also an MP.

It’s common with major newsworthy crimes for the police to issue statements and have media conferences, with some outline and details of the investigation being made public.

But with investigations involving politicians they often if not always seem to prefer secrecy. There is no obvious reason for this, apart perhaps from protecting politicians from media mayhem.

David Fisher at NX Herald has used the OIA to seek information about an inquiry: Sarah Dowie and the text message inquiry – what the police won’t tell you

Police headquarters has pulled down the shutters on the investigation into the text message sent from National MP Sarah Dowie’s to Jami-Lee Ross.

Even basic details such as the date on which the complaint was laid and the part of the country where the investigating officer is based have been kept secret by police.

It came months after the end of their extra-marital relationship and included the words: “You deserve to die.”

Ross has previously said he did not make the complaint, which was received through the Crimestoppers freephone number.

Ross, 33, revealed the investigation just before his return to Parliament this year. It was a move which led to Dowie being named as one of the women with whom he had an extra-marital relationship while National MP for Botany.

Ross was obviously aware of the complaint and the means of making the complaint. It hasn’t been revealed whether this was due to contact with the police, or contact with the complainant.

Dowie said she was not aware of the complaint and had bot been contacted by the police.

Police headquarters had refused to make comment on the investigation, leading to the NZ Herald seeking specifics through the Official Information Act.

The sort of information sought was intended to place a context around the police inquiry involving a sitting MP – an unusual occurrence in any Parliamentary term.

Details sought included the date Crimestoppers took the complaint, when it was passed to police and where in the country the investigation had been assigned.

Other details included the rank of the officer leading the investigation, whether he or she worked in a specialised police area and the amount of time spent carrying out the inquiry.

Detective Inspector David Kirby, manager of the National Criminal Investigations Group, said: “The investigation is still ongoing and whilst the investigation is ongoing police is not in a position to go into specific details of the complaint.”

Kirby quoted the section of the Act relied on to refuse providing the information, which says OIA requests can be knocked back if doing otherwise would “prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial”.

Other areas police ruled out were the date on which Ross had been told there was an investigation, whether he had been interviewed – if at all – and whether Cabinet ministers had been told of the inquiry.

if the police had not been in contact with Ross when he revealed the complaint had been made it would indicate that Ross knew via the complainant. He has not said he had no connection to the complaint, just that he had not made the complaint himself.

It has prompted a former senior police officer to ask: “Why would this investigation be treated any differently to any other investigation?”

The blanket withholding of basic information, commonly released by police, was at odds with normal practice, said a former detective, who would not be named.

Do politicians get special treatment from the police? That’s how it appears. If so, why?

A basic tenet of our system is ‘open justice’. This sort of statement is comment in court judgments:

The starting point is the principle of open justice and the right of the media to report on decisions of court as reflected in s 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990. The principle in favour of open justice should only be departed from in circumstances where the interests of justice so require, and only to the extent necessary to serve those interests.

See Erceg v Erceg [2016] NZSC 135, [2017] 1 NZLR 310 at [2]

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990:

Freedom of expression

14. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.

But that is often balanced against the right to a fair trial, and this was given as a reason by the police for secrecy in this case. Claiming a right to a fair trial is a common grounds for seeking name suppression,  but in this case the names of both alleged offender and claimed victim are already known – because the claimed victim Ross revealed it to media.

So Ross chose to go public for political PR purposes, but despite this the police are refusing to give out any information or context, as seems common with inquiries involving politicians.

The difference in this case is a politician claims to be the victim and has already publicised the inquiry. This is an unusual situation.

Politicians are usually subject to more scrutiny than the general public, but not when the police are involved.