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:


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.

Police pay damages to Hager’s daughter

The Police stuffed up when they raided Nicky Hager’s house while he was away in October 2014.

Today lawyer Felix Geiringer has advised that the Police have agreed to pay damages and costs to Hager’s daughter, who was home at the time, had her bedroom searched, and had her computer and phone seized.

Police pay-out for Hager raid

In a further development of the legal proceedings over the Police raid of the home of investigative journalist Nicky Hager, the Police have today settled a claim brought by Nicky Hager’s daughter.

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 December of last year, the High Court ruled that the warrant that was used for the raid was “fundamentally unlawful”. The Police are not appealing that decision.

Nicky Hager’s daughter was the only one home when the Police turned up to raid the house. She had to stay and watch the 10-hour raid of her home. The Police search included a search of her bedroom and private belongings. The Police seized and cloned her phone and laptop. The laptop was kept by the Police for over four months. This all happened two weeks before she was due to submit her end-of-degree University papers.

The Police have agreed to pay Nicky Hager’s daughter damages and her costs. They have also agreed to destroy all copies of her information taken during the raid and copied. On that basis, his daughter has agreed to discontinue her proceedings against the Police.

Claims brought by Nicky Hager against the Police following the raid on his home are still ongoing.

During the case brought by Nicky Hager the Court directed that the names of some of those involved, including Nicky Hager’s daughter, not be released in relation to that proceeding.

It was a futile raid that was botched by the Police, at least they have agreed to settle on this.

No charges to be laid against Todd Barclay

After a 9 month investigation the police have announced that no charges will laid against Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay.

ODT reports:

Police will not lay any charges in relation to an allegation against Clutha-Southland MP Todd Barclay, it has been confirmed.

“After consideration of all relevant information and the Solicitor-general’s prosecution guidelines, police has determined that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute,” a statement from police said yesterday.

Witnesses were interviewed and the case was referred to the legal division of police.

“Police received a complaint in February 2016 regarding an allegation that private communications had been intercepted by an individual.

“This investigation examined all the available information, including interviews with key witnesses.

“All the relevant parties have been informed of this decision,” the police spokesman said.

Coincidentally (possibly) was news this week that Barclay is being challenged for the National Party nomination to stand for the seat next year. See MP challenged in Clutha-Southland.

Charges would have made it difficult for Barclay, especially because the allegations related to a staff dispute in his own office.

Those staff problems will still figure in the contest for the nomination. Barclay is getting some support from his electorate and from some Parliamentary colleagues – see National battles in Clutha-Southland – but Simon Flood must also believe he has support in the electorate and in the party to challenge an incumbent MP.

This should at least be another reality check for Barclay. Any thoughts he had an electorate and a job for as long as he liked should have been dispelled.

Euthanasia checkpoint conspiracy theories

Martyn Bradbury has made claims about the checkpoints used to gather information from euthanasia campaigners that look absurd to me. He seems to have dreamt them up as doesn’t substantiated them at all.

The Daily Blog: So why are the NZ Police taking a sudden interest in Euthanasia campaigners?

Let me be clear.

I am anti-euthanasia. I passionately believe that if this passes, Government’s and State Agencies will not be able to help themselves in promoting Euthanasia to lesson health costs. That’s what Jenny Shipley was secretly trying to do in the 1990s and I sure as hell believe National would use it like that now.

I presume he means lessen. The rest sounds like maniacal scaremongering.

That said, what the NZ Police are doing to Euthanasia campaigners is not only outrageous, but the real reasons behind this weird abuse of power is actually a lot darker.

Falsifying a checkpoint to catch and tag members of any political group or organisation and then turn up on their doorsteps to intimidate them is extreme and barely within the law.

I agree that the abuse of the checkpoint was outrageous, and may have in fact been outside the law.

Which is what the NZ Police are testing out. The incredible search and surveillance powers bestowed upon them retrospectively by John Key for illegally spying on activists added new abilities to actively deceive and effectively entrap activists. This pro-active Policing is clearly something the NZ Police wish to test out.

This is a bloody training exercise.

The Police have selected a low grade activist group with little political clout to test out how far they can actually go with their new powers.

The checkpoint had nothing to do with new spying or search and surveillance powers.

The Police have been trying these tactics out for some time. The Urewera Raids not only used illegal spying techniques (now legal), but they engaged in GCSB  level spying equipment and agent provocateurs. They tried it on with the failed Red Devil undercover plant and more recently used ‘Mr Big’ entrapment scams.

Targeting Euthanasia campaigners is a training exercise as our Police State starts flexing its new found muscles.

Linking the Urewera raids and GCSB spying to the euthanasia checkpoint seems a rather ridiculous leap.

Remember if the new GCSB and SIS powers go through, they can deputise any agency to share their legal immunity if committing crimes. 

Good grief. I haven’t seen anyone one else talking about legal immunity over this. The Police referred themselves to the Independent Police Complaints Authority over the checkpoint.

Bradbury seems to have ended up stranded on the political outer – the maniacal left out.

Police accused of illegal moral crusade

RNZ have more on the using of an alcohol breath-testing check point to identify elderly people who had attended a euthanasia meeting.

Yesterday police admitted they used a breath-testing checkpoint to identify and trace people who had been at an Exit International meeting in Lower Hutt earlier this month.

Shortly afterwards they announced they had reported themselves to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The acting Wellington District Commander, Paul Basham, said police carried out the operation “in good faith”, but were also aware of public concern about the legal basis for the checkpoint.

But Human rights lawyer Michael Bott said…

…officers misused used their power under the Land Transport Act, which allowed them to stop people, ask for licences and carry out breath tests for road safety.

“What you’ve got is New Zealand police undertaking what appears to be some kind of moral crusade on spurious grounds to such a degree that they’re prepared to use ‘stop and questioning’ powers under the Land Transport Act for ulterior motives, which seems completely improper,” he said.

In their defence, police said they had a responsibility to investigate any situation where they had reasonable grounds to “suspect that people are being assisted in the commission of suicide”.

So why didn’t the police go to the meeting to investigate?

But Mr Bott said police had no right to intervene in the way they did.

“The mere fact that you attend a meeting with a group who believe in the right to commit suicide in certain circumstances – if you’re unwell or terminally ill – doesn’t mean you actually endorse those aims, or that in fact you’re contemplating assisting someone with bringing about their own demise.

“So you really haven’t got good cause to do that.”

Otago University law professor Mark Henaghan…

…agreed the officers had acted unlawfully.

“Under the Bill of Rights Act, there is a provision that people should not be unlawfully detained. They [the elderly people] weren’t detained in the sense of being put in a cell but they were detained, and they were stopped and questioned, and were asked to hand over their licence,” he said.

“The police have no more power than I have to stop someone and say ‘I want to see your licence’, unless they’re using (their power) for the purpose it was designed for, which is the blood alcohol purpose.

“They’re really not using power that they have, so they’re effectively detaining people. If you haven’t got the power to do it then it’s illegal detention.”

Wilhelmina Irving missed the checkpoint but was visited from a plain clothes officer anyway.

She was one of a group of elderly women visited by the officers who questioned them about their connection to the pro-euthanasia activists.

She said the ordeal had made her lose faith in the police.

“You don’t think like that of the police, you think of them as trying to help people, not making things difficult for elderly people really.”

How was she identified?

I hope this is an ill-advised one-off and doesn’t set a precedent for how the police investigate groups of people.

Police numbers game

With a by-election coming up in December, which will probably include a new party campaigning on law and order, and a general election next year, parties are throwing police numbers around.

Police Minister Judith Collins in a speech to the New Zealand Police Association Annual Conference this week:

The Government has also made significant recent financial investments in policing.  Budget 2016 delivered an extra $299.2 million to Police over the next four years, including $279.9 million to fund pay increases

And of course there are more 600 more officers on the beat than there were in 2009, and advances in technology and strategy have made our police much more efficient.

That said, there is no doubt that demands for Police services have increased considerably and there is pressure on Police resourcing.

I take that very seriously and I have been discussing this with Police and my colleagues for some time.

We’re still working through the numbers but recently the Prime Minister confirmed that the government is likely to increase the number of Police.

Will we see numbers announced before the by-election?

Labour threw down the gauntlet. Oddly it’s not on their website ‘Latest news’ yet (or anywhere that I can see on their website) but Andrew Little also spoke at the conference:

I am committed to lifting police numbers in the first term of a Labour Government.

Today, I am proud to announce that Labour will hire a thousand more Police officers in our first term.

There will be 1,000 more Police officers under a Labour Government I lead.

This will take total officer numbers to 10,000, and it will be enough to bring the Police to population ratio back below the international benchmark of 1 to 500.

We will work with police to prioritise these additional officers on the serious invasive and violent offences like assaults, sexual assaults, burglaries, and robberies, and of course, the scourge that is methamphetamine.

This increase will be fully funded.

We’ll boost the total Police Budget in line with the increase in officer numbers.

That means $180m more a year for policing once all the extra officers are recruited.

Nothing from the Greens website yet.

NZ First have been calling for more police for some time. Winston Peters will address the conference this morning.