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Tough policing for Wellington Central – why not?

  • May 9th, 2008

I’ve written to Superintendent Pieri Munro, Wellington District Commander, to ask whether we can expect “broken windows” policing here. The Christchurch Superintendant has announced  a “broken windows” approach for Christchurch. Commonly misnamed “Zero Tolerance”, it is the policy that returned New York to its current status as one of the most livable cities in the world, from being a crime hell hole.

It implements insights developed by Prof James Q Wilson. He explained why prioritising serious crimes did not reduce serious crime rates if the prioritising meant more tolerance of entry level crime.  Signs in a community that law breaking is common tell potential offenders that law breaking is unlikely to have much cost. Unrepaired broken windows (with graffiti) are highly visible symptoms of a lawless environment.

In two separate trips to the US I studied how the policy was applied by Commissioner Bratton in New York and (less successfully) now in Los Angeles. I visited John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Courts, the Mayors’ offices, and Police HQ’s. The most memorable hours were at one of the NYPD’s famous command conferences where police captains are held accountable for the crime and accidents in their precincts over the previous week.

New Zealand has become one of the Western World’s highest crime countries. Even so, Wellingtonians have been relatively safer than most other New Zealanders. Now bad signs are penetrating our consciousness. Violent youth crime is climbing. Future overall crime rates are determined by youth crime rates. Few change once a criminal pattern has been imprinted, so this is a serious signal.

Superintendent Munro has an effective drive on minor offences (largely alcohol ban infringements) in the central city. But a genuine broken windows policy is comprehensive.

It seems that vagrants now feel the law does not extend to Aro Park.  A young woman student complained to me yesterday the Aro Park crowd are terrifying flatters in the neighbourhood. Women are menaced as they pass, even in daylight. At night they’re now forced to get taxis from their door, because it is too scary to go past the undesirable area in the dark.

A sucessful Broken Windows policy does not just move low level criminals from area to area. It only works if there is a sustained and consistent message that the community and its laws are not toothless, that there will be no choice but to straighten up. In particular there should be no lawless places where kids can drift into those self destructive patterns. The only havens for incorrigibles (usually because of addiction) should be deliberately provided, and under strong management that does not tolerate offending by them (or against them, given that they are often bullied and brutalised in police no-go areas).

New Zealanders have finally accepted the connections between graffiti and the growth of crime hotspots. Now the Police in Wellington must be supported to eliminate all ’no-go’ areas for routine enforcement of the law.

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The Independent Police Complaints Authority has received a complaint alleging District Commander Superintendent Pieri Munro failed to acknowledge or investigate a criminal complaint last year.

The complaint referred to Mr Munro involved serious fraud resulting in a criminal breach of trust. Evidence of fraudulent accounting practice was presented to acting Superintendent Dave Trappit, who conceded there was as case to answer and referred the matter to Mr Munro.

It is alleged that Mr Munro failed to follow proper procedure and act in accordance with his sworn obligations as a Police Officer, to uphold and enforce the laws of New Zealand.

The complainant John Creser said today “None of these are trivial matters and reveal a deep-seated malaise within the culture of the New Zealand Police. At this present moment the Police are seeking to interview four members of the touring British Lions over an incident at an Auckland Hotel, without so much as a complaint or a complainant. In my case there is a pattern of denial from the Police who consistently refuse to acknowledge that I’ve made a complaint at all .”

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  • J Burns
  • July 6th, 2009
  • 11:27 am

In 1984 I reported a serious crime to the Police and was told, after a year’s investigation, that “due to insufficient evidence,” they were unable to proceed.

It has since come to my attention that the Police never interviewed anyone in relation to my complaint and I even have the original interviewing Police Officer, since retired, complaining about how ineffective the CIB were.

I’ve laid a complaint to the Independent Police Conduct Authority and will wait in line, along with all their other complaints, to be heard.

I want to fast-track this investigation and wondered whether it would be worthwhile contacting a lawyer. Can someone advise me on how I could take the Police to Court for failure to investigate this?

Many thanks.

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