Maori Party supports increased powers for Police watchdog

Wednesday 3 September 2008, 9:33PM
By Hone Harawira

The Maori Party says it will support legislation giving the Independent Police Conduct Authority power to arrest police officers and lay criminal charges as a result of its inquiries.

“Can’t wait to see the detail,” said the party’s police spokesperson, Hone Harawira.

“Maori never had much faith in the old Police Complaints Authority, because it always seemed like when you made a complaint about a cop, other cops would look into it then tell you there was no case to answer.

“So we’re right behind Justice Goddard’s plan for the new Authority to have independent powers of investigation and enforcement, and not have to be reliant on other police officers.”

“The police have a special role to play in society,’ said Harawira. “They’re supposed to act in the public interest, but they also have powers of arrest over ordinary citizens, access to evidence, and influence over witnesses.”

“Hopefully the new Police Conduct Authority will have the power to prevent police under investigation, from influencing witnesses or tampering with evidence.

“It’s important for the credibility of the police themselves, that they’re held accountable for their actions,” said Mr Harawira. “An independent authority with powers to police the police will go a long way to rebuilding that lost credibility.”