Hollywood’s after Dotcom

April 9, 2014

The news keeps getting worse for Kim Dotcom:

Seven major Hollywood movie studios have filed a massive copyright infringement lawsuit against Megaupload and its founder Kim Dotcom.

The film companies filed the legal action through the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which made the announcement this morning New Zealand time.

He is personally named in the indictment, which claims Megaupload and its key operators “facilitated, encouraged, and profited from massive copyright infringement of movies and television shows” before it was shut down in 2012. . . .

“When Megaupload.com was shut down in 2012 by US law enforcement, it was by all estimates the largest and most active infringing website targeting creative content in the world,” MPAA global general counsel Steven Fabrizio said in a statement.

“Infringing content on Megaupload.com and its affiliates was available in at least 20 languages, targeting a broad global audience. According to the government’s indictment, the site reported more than US$175 million in criminal proceeds and cost US copyright owners more than half a billion dollars.”

The companies are seeking profits and maximum statutory damages.

Megaupload was built on an incentive system which rewarded users for uploading the most popular content on the site, “which was almost always stolen movies, TV shows and other commercial entertainment content”, Mr Fabrizio continued.

“Megaupload wasn’t a cloud storage service at all, it was an unlawful hub for mass distribution.

“To be clear, if a user uploaded his term paper to store it, he got nothing … But if that same user uploaded a stolen full-length film that was repeatedly infringed, he was paid for his efforts.

“That’s not a storage facility; that’s a business model designed to encourage theft – and make its owners very rich in the process.

“There’s nothing new or innovative about that. That’s just a profiteer using existing technology to try to get rich off of someone else’s hard work.” . . .

Breach of copyright is theft.

The suit doesn’t mean he’s guilty but it does add to a picture which is becoming increasingly murky.

 


Recorded crime drops

April 2, 2014

More good news on the social front – recorded crime is at a 29 year  low:

 New figures show criminal offences have dropped by 4.1percent in the last year, the lowest crime figure in real terms in 29 years.

When considered against a 0.9 percent growth in population, offending dropped by 5 percent per head of population, or 15,602 fewer crimes were recorded in 2013 than in 2012.

Deputy Commissioner Mike Bush said Police were delighted with the historic figure.

“We are deploying staff more efficiently and pro-actively to ensure Police are in the right place at the right time to prevent crime from occurring.

“In 2013 we conducted over 104,000 foot patrols across New Zealand. Frontline officers are now spending an extra 30 minutes per shift out in communities preventing crime.”

“The sharp reduction in public place assaults is a great example of how our Prevention First strategy is making our communities safer.”

Nine of the twelve Police districts recorded decreases in recorded crime. Auckland and Wellington Districts recorded the biggest reductions at 9.9 percent, followed by Bay of Plenty at 7.4 percent and Southern at 6.6 percent.

In contrast, sexual assault offences rose by 11.6 percent in 2013 but Mr Bush believes this is likely to be due to increased reporting.

“We know that sexual violence is under-reported, and we are heartened that more victims of this type of crime are coming forward,” Mr Bush said.

There was also a 22.7 percent drop in illicit drug offences in 2013, mostly due to a reduction in cannabis cultivation and possession.

A 59 percent increase in the import or export illicit drugs offence category was the result of Police’s targeted campaign against organised crime groups that control large parts of the New Zealand methamphetamine drug trade.

 “The figures are a credit to our staff who are committed to making New Zealand communities safer,” Mr Bush said.

 Police Minister Anne Tolley congratulated Police on the announcement:

“Fewer crimes means fewer victims and safer communities, and I want to thank our officers for everything they are doing to serve and protect the public,” says Mrs Tolley. . .

Photo: More frontline policing is helping to bring down crime and make our streets safer. Read more at: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?ArticleID=43511  What do you think of National’s progress on law and order?


Reoffending rates drop

March 25, 2014

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the Government is now over half way to achieving the Better Public Service target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.

Reoffending has fallen by 12.6 per cent against the June 2011 benchmark, resulting in 2,319 fewer offenders and 9,276 fewer victims of crime each year.

“These figures are extremely encouraging, and combined with a 17.4 per cent drop in recorded crimes over the last three years it shows our communities are safer,” says Mrs Tolley.

“I want to thank our Corrections and Probation staff for embracing our bold plans and for all their efforts in reducing reoffending.

“There have been unprecedented increases in prisoner and community offender rehabilitation under this Government, which are already paying dividends.

“Our focus on education, skills training, addiction treatment, working prisons and reintegration is giving offenders the opportunity to turn their lives around and stay away from crime.

“Addressing the drivers of crime is vital, and there has been a 1500 per cent increase in places on drug and alcohol treatment programmes for prisoners since 2008.

“At the same time, there has been a 155 per cent increase in the number of prisoners starting literacy and numeracy programmes, and an 830 per cent jump in the number of prisoners gaining qualifications.

“And there is more hard work to come. We are determined to reach our target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017, which will result in huge benefits for communities and taxpayers.

“It will mean safer streets, with 18,500 fewer victims of crime each year, as well as 4,000 fewer community offenders and 600 less prisoners in jails.”

Less reoffending has social and economic benefits.

It means fewer victims and less time and money needed for detection, prosecution and punishment.
From @[183355881680015:274:New Zealand National Party]: National will lower prisoner reoffending by 25% by 2017. We’re already halfway there. That means safer streets and communities for families - www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43438


Lowest crime rate since ’79

March 13, 2014

Good news from the Justice Ministry:

The crime rate is the lowest since 1979 and in the last five years it has dropped 16%.

The actual number of crimes has also reduced. In 2008 when the population was 4,251,200, the number of recorded crimes was 426,690. In 2013 when the population was 4,452,600, it was 365,185. With 201,ooo more people, there were 61, 505 fewer crimes.

 These figures will bring no joy to the thousands who were affected by crime.

But fewer crimes means fewer victims.

It means less time and money spent solving crimes and trying and punishing the perpetrators.

It means we are safer and therefore that we are freer.
Photo: Crime is falling. Violent crime is falling. Youth crime is falling. What do you think of our progress? Read more here: www.justice.govt.nz/justice-sector/documents/justice-sector-report-2013-2


Treating causes

March 10, 2014

Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says there has been a rise of almost 1500 per cent in places on drug and alcohol treatment programmes for prisoners since 2008.

This financial year over 3,700 prisoners will have access to treatment for their addictions, rising to 4,700 next year, up from just 234 in 2007/08.

The Government has expanded the number of specialist Drug Treatment Units in prisons from six to nine, while there has been a fourfold increase in places at the Units. In addition, since last year all prisons have introduced brief and intermediate treatment programmes and Northland and Auckland Women’s have begun intensive support, as part of the drive to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.

Corrections has so far reduced reoffending by 11.8 per cent, resulting in 8668 fewer victims of crime each year.

“The revolution in offender rehabilitation is going from strength to strength in the key areas of addiction treatment, education and skills training,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Support for prisoners tackling drug and alcohol abuse is just common sense, as we know that these addictions are a major driver of crime.

“All prisoners are now screened for alcohol and drug problems when they enter prison, which allows staff to make appropriate decisions on the amount of support required. This means that every prisoner now undergoes screening for addictions, health, mental health and education when they enter a facility.

“The latest analysis shows that over half of the current prison muster has problems with drug and alcohol.

“The vast majority of prisoners are released back into communities. If we can give them the opportunity to change their lives around while inside prison, and access education and employment skills training, then they will have the tools to stay away from crime when they are released.

“This will make our communities safer, and ensure we reach our target of 18,500 fewer victims of crime each year by 2017.”

This is treating the causes of crime not just the symptoms.

Drug and alcohol abuse are two of the biggest contributors to crime.

Addressing those while people are in prison is one of the best ways to equip prisoners for life outside and reduce re-offending.
Photo: Helping prisoners turn their lives around means less reoffending and safer communities for all New Zealanders: www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=43249


What matters

February 25, 2014

While sideshows get attention, what really matters are the basics: the economy, education, health, welfare and security.

An important ingredient in personal security is a low crime rate and the news on that is improving:

Crime and reoffending continues to fall according to the latest progress report on Better Public Service (BPS) to September 2013, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.

“Increased collaboration between the Ministry of Justice, Police, Corrections and Courts means the Justice sector is making excellent progress and is well on track to meet, and even exceed its targets by 2017,” Ms Collins says.

“Since June 2011, the total crime rate has fallen 13 per cent, the violent crime rate has fallen 9 per cent, the youth crime rate has fallen 22 per cent and the reoffending rate is down 11.4 per cent.

“Crime is at a 33 year low and we have the opportunity to keep doing what works and finding new and innovative ways to prevent crime from occurring in the first place.”

BPS targets for the justice sector are to reduce the total recorded crime rate by 15 per cent, the recorded violent crime rate by 20 per cent and the youth crime and re-offending rate by 25 per cent by 2017.

Ms Collins says the sector is also continuing efforts to strengthen support for victims of crime to make sure they remain at the heart of our justice system.

“We’ve embarked on a comprehensive programme of reform to protect communities, prevent crime, and put victims first, with levies on offenders, new laws, and new services for victims,” Ms Collins says.

“We’re staying tough on criminals, keeping record numbers of Police on the beat, and ensuring the justice system focuses on the rights of victims and is more accessible for those who need to use it.”

Today’s results show that in the year to September 2013, 51,553 fewer recorded crimes have been experienced by New Zealanders than in the year to June 2011.

Ms Collins acknowledges the Ministry of Justice, Police and Corrections and her Justice sector ministerial colleagues for their continued commitment to making New Zealand safe.

Better Public Service (BPS) graphic 1
Better Public Service (BPS) graphic 1
Better Public Service (BPS) graphic 2

There are both social and economic benefits to crime reduction.

Fewer crimes means fewer victims, fewer people in prison, more people engaged meaningfully in society and less money spent on detection, prosecution and punishment.

It also means a better quality of life, people who feel safer are freer.

Friends visiting from Argentina kept saying how much they enjoyed being in a house without bars on its windows and being able to walk down the street without being in fear of pick-pockets.


Mr Fines

February 2, 2014

Consequences for people who ignore reparation payments or fines for traffic offences are going to be tougher from next month:

People with unpaid fines or reparation for traffic-related offences could find themselves barred from driving under powerful new sanctions which come into effect this month, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

From Monday 17 February ‘Driver Licence Stop Orders’ (DLSOs) can be imposed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed on them by a Court, Police or a local government authority – or a reparation order imposed on them by a Court – for a traffic-related offence.

Mr Borrows says DLSOs are a powerful new sanction, which will initially be targeted at repeat offenders who’ve racked up big overdue debts.

“There are around 136,000 people who between them owe $48 million in traffic related fines and are making no attempt to pay,” Mr Borrows says.

“A lot of them have chosen to ignore repeated reminders and if they remain uncooperative they’ll pay for it with their driver licence.

“We will focus initially on the worst offenders, but anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”

The Ministry of Justice, which will hand out the new sanction, will start by giving people with large amounts owing 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan.  They’ll get one more reminder, and if they’re not compliant a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence.

Their licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.  And if they’re caught driving while their licence is suspended they could be prosecuted, and have the vehicle they were driving seized for 28 days.

“Of course the aim here isn’t to suspend lots of driver licences,” Mr Borrows says.

“The aim is to get people who’ve been ignoring the authority of law to take things seriously, and to pay their traffic-related fines.

“We’ve made big inroads in recent years in getting people to pay fines – thanks to sanctions such as the powers to seize property, stop people from travelling overseas, stop people making purchases on credit, and directly deducting money from wages. 

“Those measures have seen the total level of unpaid fines and reparation fall by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since 2009.  But that still leaves $554.4 million in unpaid fines – the vast majority of offenders (96%) owing money for vehicle-related offences.  In that context, the ability to bar people from driving is a powerful new tool to enforce penalties, because driving matters to most people with fines.”

A new television, radio and online advertising campaign will launch on Sunday 2 February, letting people know about DLSOs and other enforcement powers, and encouraging those with unpaid traffic fines or reparation to arrange payment.


‘I thought it was a domestic’

January 19, 2014

A woman who was beaten up on her daily walk is justifiably angry that none of the witnesses intervened.

The daytime attack that left Praveet Singh with fractured eye sockets and a broken nose has sparked calls for Kiwis to “do their duty to one another”.

Singh, 40, was on her regular pre-dinner walk near her home in Papatoetoe, Auckland, on Thursday when she was set upon in the street by a man who allegedly started punching her, and threw a bottle at her.

Singh sought safety in a driveway but she said the man chased her and the attack continued.

The mother of two said homeowners watched as the beating continued. One had pushed her back towards her attacker. “The neighbourhood gathered and I kept screaming for help and no one did anything. It was a freakshow to them. I’ve been beaten nearly to death and there were spectators.”

Onlookers’ fear for their own safety is understandable, but two used another excuse:

Narendra Kumar said he initially thought it was a domestic assault and had been reluctant to intervene.

He continued washing his car while the attack continued, also saying he suffered from health problems which meant he couldn’t get involved. “I’m not afraid of anybody but I couldn’t afford to stop him.”. . .

Neighbour Singh Sandeep was studying when he heard the shouting for help. “I thought it was a domestic dispute. Praveet was on the ground getting punched. Praveet’s eyes were black and there was blood.”. . .

Whether or not it was a domestic dispute is irrelevant.

Using that as an excuse for standing back harks back to the dark days when such incidents were described as only a domestic.

There is no only about any violence, domestic or otherwise.

Not intervening is common when there’s a crowd and none of us know how we would react if we were in a similar situation.

But thinking it’s only a domestic is no excuse for not helping someone in desperate need.


Case for optimism

January 9, 2014

At this time of year when people are making predictions on what the next 12 months will bring, it’s instructive to look back at what people were predicting a few decades ago.

In The Case for Optimism, entrepreneur Fabrice Grinda writes:

Let me take you back in time to the late 1970s for they seemed to mark the beginning of the end of Western Civilization. OECD countries were suffering from stagflation with inflation and unemployment above 10%. We had suffered from 2 oil shocks. The US had lost Vietnam. The Shah had fallen in Iran. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan. Dictatorships were the norm in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, Latin America and even Southern Europe. The Club of Rome had made dire predictions that the world would run out of oil, coal and many natural resources within 40 years.

No one predicted that over the next 40 years there would be democracies across Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southern Europe; that inflation and unemployment would fall dramatically; that we would see the greatest creation of wealth in the history of humanity as 1 billion people came out of poverty. 650 million came out of poverty in China alone, completely changing urban landscapes across the country as a whole. Despite 40 years of record consumption of oil and natural gas we now have more reserves than we did then. The way we work and live has been profoundly transformed by computers, the Internet and mobile phones.

If we take a further step back, we can see that over the last 100 years economic downturns, be they recessions that occur every few years or bigger crisis such as the great depression, as painful as they are while we live them, barely register in a background of unabated economic growth. In fact over the last 100 years human lifespans have doubled from 40 to 80, average per capita income has tripled and childhood mortality has divided by 10. The cost of food, electricity, transportation and communications have dropped 10 to a 1,000 fold. Global literacy has gone from 25% to over 80% in the last 130 years.

We have redefined what poverty means. Today 99% of Americans in poverty have electricity, water, toilet and refrigerator. 95% have a television. 88% have a mobile phone. 70% have a car and air conditioning. The richest people 100 years ago could only dream of such luxuries.

We are also living in the most peaceful time in human history; not just of recent history, but in the history of humanity. We are truly living in extraordinary times. . .

He goes on to look at improvements in technology, health, public service, education , transportation, communication and energy and concludes:

. . .  Think about it. Computing power was so expensive we had to limit access to it. Now it’s so ubiquitous we use it to play Angry Birds or check Facebook. Its very cheapness has unleashed an extraordinary wave of innovation.

The same will happen with energy. Once it’s cheap many of our other problems go away. The idea that we will face a fresh water shortage is also ludicrous. The earth is 70% covered by water. The issue is once again accessibility as only 1.3% of it is surface fresh water. However in a world of unlimited energy it’s easy to desalinate salt water. In fact we may not even need to wait that long as new innovative devices like the Slingshot are coming on stream that can generate 1,000 liters of pure water per day from any water source, even saline or polluted.

Once fresh water is abundant food also becomes abundant as you can grow crops in the dessert – and that’s not taking into consideration an agriculture productivity revolution that could come from urban vertical farms.

As people we are truly blessed to be living in this amazing time. As entrepreneurs and investors we have the privilege of helping create this better world of tomorrow, a world of equality of opportunity and of plenty.

Closer to home, Lindsay Mitchell notes 10 positive trends in New Zealand: Assaults in police, incidents of sudden infant death, recorded crime,  smoking, abortion, teenage pregnancies, road deaths, child mortality, Maori suicide and rheumatic fever have all declined.

Of course there are still major problems at home and abroad but both writers provide strong cases for optimism.

 


Logical consequences

December 9, 2013

Positive parenting teaches you to link the punishment to the crime.

The best way is by natural consequences.

That’s when you do nothing and let what happens, happen.

If however, the natural consequences are too dangerous, expensive or pleasurable, the second best option is logical consequences – where what happens is linked to the misdemeanour.

For example, confiscating pens and pencils if a child has drawn on the wallpaper.

It strikes me that using more than $3 million recovered under the proceeds from crime Act will to fight P.is a form of logical consequences.

Prime Minister John Key has today announced that over $3 million recovered under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act will be used to fund law enforcement initiatives to break the methamphetamine supply chain and expand alcohol and drug treatment programmes.

“When I launched the Methamphetamine Action Plan in 2009, we made a commitment that money taken from those who profit from drugs would be used to target the drug trade and help those affected by it to get treatment,” says Mr Key.

“We are sending a clear message we are serious about tackling drugs, particularly methamphetamine, and the harm they cause our communities.”

Since the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act came into force in December 2009, the Police have obtained forfeiture orders for assets worth $30.5 million, over half of which are related to methamphetamine offences.

While a good portion of this money goes towards procedural factors, like repaying people and organisations left out of pocket by criminals, legal and administration costs, $7 million has been set aside for anti-P initiatives and that will continue to grow.

Law enforcement and health agencies are able to bid for funding. The successful bids in this initial round are:

  • $1 million to increase residential accommodation for participants in alcohol and drug treatment programmes. (Health)
  • $714,000 for the Drug and Alcohol Court pilot to cover prosecution and defence counsel costs. (Justice)
  • $600,000­ to aid with the recovery of legal costs incurred under the Act allowing Police to focus on recovering more criminal proceeds. (Police)
  • $335,000 to enhance frontline screening at the border. (Customs)
  • $320,000 to help assess the purity of methamphetamine. (Customs)
  • $200,000 for a Police training programme to teach drug dogs to detect cash as well as drugs. (Police)
  • $68,000 for the development of media guidelines for reporting on the use of volatile substances. (Health)

The next funding round will be held next year.

The latest Indicators and Progress Report for the Government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan, also released today, shows the number of people using P has continued to decrease but the issue of demand and supply remains a complex one.

“When the Government launched the Methamphetamine Action Plan in 2009, New Zealand had one of the highest rates of P users in the world with 2.2 per cent of the adult population using the drug,’’ says Mr Key.

“We are now down to just under 0.9 per cent, which is great, but there are still over 25,000 P users in New Zealand, which is far too many.”

Mr Key says the latest report shows the price of methamphetamine remains high indicating efforts to reduce supply are having an effect.

Since 2010, the price of a point of methamphetamine has risen from $107 to $109 and the price of a gram from $723 to $757.

However, the drug’s purity levels remain high and the price of precursors (chemicals used to create P) has continued to fall.

“Customs has made more methamphetamine and precursors seizures to date in 2013 than the total seizures in 2012, which is a credit to our law enforcement agencies,’’ says Mr Key.

“By cracking down on precursors, breaking supply chains, providing better routes into treatment, supporting families and communities and strengthening leadership and accountability we are tackling P from all directions.

“I am confident together these measures will help reduce the amount of P on our streets, save lives and make our communities safer,” says Mr Key.

The report is here.
We are serious about tackling drugs, particularly methamphetamine, and the harm they cause our communities.  http://www.national.org.nz/Article.aspx?articleId=42637


It’s up to all of us

November 26, 2013

Quote of the day:

But this isn’t something we can simply leave to Parliament and the police and hope they solve the problem for us. It comes down to what we do as individuals, families and communities. That is where the change needs to take place. Fundamentally, it’s about each of us taking responsibility for the problem. When someone is in a violent relationship, or they’re the victim of sexual violence, there will always be a bystander. Someone who sees the warning signs. Someone who knows what’s going on. We need them to speak up. We need them to tell someone.  

Most men are not violent, but most violence against women is perpetrated by men. That’s why we need to support our men, because they’re the role models for our children. We need them to be part of the solution. . .  Dr Jackie Blue.

The quote is taken from an opinion piece on domestic violence.

It was written to mark White Ribbon Day and opens with her writing about her own experience as a victim.


Moral fervour

November 13, 2013

Trans Tasman opines:

Moral fervour has its place, but it is something not to be totally trusted. Self righteousness should never be allowed to become mob rule. Society’s norms should be enforced with a degree of legal detachment, lest righteous condemnation be allowed to turn into lynch mob justice.

So it was possible to feel a smidgeon, just a smidgeon, of sympathy for talkback hosts John Tamihere and Willie Jackson this week. They found themselves on the receiving end of a nationwide, social media wide storm of condemnation for their on-air antics in the wake of the “Roastbusters” rape allegations.

But any sympathy should be minimal. The pair are not exactly strangers to these types of  on-air controversies.

Fellow babyboomer broadcaster Bill Ralston  described them, in a friendly way, as some of the last bastions of 1950s male attitudes, but this is hardly an excuse. One would expect the two to have noticed one or two changes since then. Implicit in the way the two questioned one of the rape victims on the air – and also in some commentary elsewhere – is the notion the girls in some way contributed to their predicament.

Now, contributory negligence is a useful concept in civil law, but hardly applies to criminal matters such as rape – unless it is assumed, from the outset, men have as little control as, say, an out of control machine. Tamihere has form in the misogyny area: he famously called women in the Labour Party “front bums.”

Well, now he and his partner are off the air, for acting like a pair of total back bums.

Quite.


What’s a sackable offence on radio?

November 8, 2013

What’s a sackable offence on RadioLive?

Gross misogyny by Willie Jackson and John Tamihere doesn’t seem to have been.

Will losing advertising revenue change that?

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere have been criticised over the way they interviewed an 18-year-old girl who said she was friends of one of the gang’s victims on Tuesday.

They were forced to apologise yesterday but that wasn’t enough for some, and today’s show saw a guest panelist storm out after a heated on air row.

Now it has emerged that a number of advertisers have withdrawn their support of the show and RadioLive while the pair remains on air.

ANZ, Yellow and Freeview have confirmed they are cancelling their ads on the show, and AA Insurance has indicated the same.

It came after blogger Giovanni Tiso contacted around 30 companies which advertised on the Willie and JT Show yesterday, asking them if they would reconsider their support of the programme. . .

The station also lost a guest:

Matthew Hooton walked out of the RadioLive interview today after becoming embroiled in an argument with one of the show’s hosts and being told to “shut your mouth”.

The writer was a guest on Jackson and Tamihere’s RadioLive show discussing the Roast Busters and the fall-out from the scandal, but it quickly descended into an argument when Mr Hooton confronted them about their attitude towards a young woman they interviewed on Tuesday.

The row culminated in Mr Hooton being told to “shut your mouth” or leave the studio. He walked out to shouts of “get out, get out of our studio”.

Listeners could hear fumbling as headphones and microphones were taken off before the station quickly cut to an ad break. . .

The attitude of the hosts in appearing to blame the victim in the interview is part of the problem and there are questions over whether some police have a similar attitude.

Police Minister Anne Tolley has taken the unprecedented step of referring the case to the Independent Police Complaints Authority:

Police Minister Anne Tolley says she has written to the Independent Police Conduct Authority, asking it to investigate the “Roast Busters” case in Auckland, particularly the questioning of a thirteen year-old girl in 2011.

“Parents of young girls need to have confidence that complaints to Police about sexual assault are investigated thoroughly and appropriately,” says Mrs Tolley.

“As Minister, I can’t delve into the details of a Police investigation – politicians cannot interfere in Police inquiries.

“But the IPCA does have the power to carry out an independent assessment of the details surrounding these events, and I believe this is the right course of action to ensure the public has confidence in the Police on this matter.

“This morning the Commissioner has again assured me that this inquiry has been thorough, and that there was a comprehensive investigation into the victim’s complaint.

“However, I have made it clear to the Commissioner that I am disappointed that the full facts have not been available to me or to him.

“I don’t expect to be told finer details of Police operations. Police must remain independent of politicians. But I do expect Police to be talking to each other.

“I would again urge any young women who have been affected to come forward and talk to Police as a first step in gathering evidence which can be used to bring people to justice.”

This referral is the right action when there are so many questions about the way the case has been handled.

Police at first said they hadn’t taken any action because there had been no formal complaints. But four girls complained to police.

. . . She was one of four girls who went to police over incidents involving Roast Busters. She went through the process of making her complaint with police formal via an evidential video interview.

The other girls were all aged between 13 and 15.

She has now said she will lay a second complaint with police because her alleged attackers were “sick boys that were twisted in the head”. . .

It takes a lot of courage to make a complaint of this nature, even more so if an earlier complaint wasn’t handled sensitively.


No-one asks to be raped

November 7, 2013

My laptop was stolen at an airport.

I’d put it down with my suitcase to pay for parking, paid, picked up the case but not the computer.

I realised my mistake minutes later, ran back but the computer was gone.

Thanks to some very good police work it was recovered a few weeks later.

Was I careless?

Yes.

Did I ask for the computer to be stolen?

No.

Did my carelessness make it any less a theft?

No.

Had it been an honest man who found the computer, he’d have called me back, phoned the number inside the case or handed it in to someone in the airport.

He wouldn’t have taken it, found a way round the password, loaded his contacts onto it and used it until the police caught up with him.

My inattention provided an opportunity for the crime but it’s one an honest person wouldn’t have taken.

So it is with rape.

Some discussion on the Roast Busters has turned to what the victims were wearing and that they were drinking .

There’s been suggestions this somehow excuses the behaviour of the young men who plied them with alcohol, raped them and boasted of their exploits on Facebook.

It doesn’t.

There is no excuse for rape.

Regardless of what the young women might have been wearing and doing, and whether or not they should have been where they were and drinking, they were not asking to be raped.

Asking to be raped is an oxymoron.

Rape is unconsensual sex and someone who is comatose cannot give consent.

Among those who seem ready to excuse the perpetrators and blame the victims are Radio Live hosts John Tamihere and WIllie Jackson.

I didn’t hear the programme but have heard enough of the reaction to it to be disgusted by what they said, the apology for an apology and apparent inability to understand why they “caused offence”.

The best response to it comes in an open lettter from Dr Leonie Pihama and Marama Davidson of the Te Wharepora Hou Maori Women’s Group:

Tena korua John and Willie

Yesterday we were sent the link to your radio programme of your discussion with ‘Amy’. Listening to your programme is a rare event in both of our whare. Why? Because the views you espouse are on the whole conservative, often ignorant and nearly always sexist. So we are not surprised with the misogynistic undertones of how you spoke to ‘Amy’.

What is saddening is the fact that you seem to have absolutely no awareness or experience of the impact of rape on the lives of it’s victims and survivors.

What is disturbing is that you show no empathy for the pain and ongoing distress caused by sexual violence on entire whanau.

What is alarming is that with all the involvement you have in providing programmes within urban Maori communities that you remain ignorant of the destruction caused by rape culture.

What is disconcerting is that you have no sense of understanding for how difficult it is to talk to others about being raped, about sexual violence, about family violence let alone what it means to be 14, 15 or 16 years old.

What is disgusting is that you seem to revel in the deep-seated ignorance on these issues.

Rape, whether it be of a woman abducted, or of a mother catching a bus home after work, or of a young woman out for drinks with her friends, or of any woman in her own home by someone she knows – is rape.

Rape, John and Willie, is rape.

Rape, John, is not about “how free and easy are you kids out there these days”.

Rape, Willie, is not about how you are too young to have a drink out with friends.

Rape has nothing to do with if they are good looking. ‘Good looking’ men rape too Willie.

Rape – John and Willie – is rape. . .

More questions over police handling of the issue were raised yesterday when they released a statement saying a complaint against the group had been made two years ago:

Police investigating allegations involving the “Roast Busters” group can confirm a complaint was received in December 2011. An investigation was launched and the complaint was thoroughly investigated.

Whilst this was a distressing situation for the girl and her family, Police determined that there was not sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.

Out of respect for the victim and her family Police are unable to discuss the specific details of this particular situation any further, however the victim’s complaint is still part of the continuing investigation and should new supporting evidence come to light as part of the ongoing enquiry , the decision in this case not to prosecute will be reviewed.

Police discussed this matter again with the victim’s family this morning and re-stated their absolute commitment to doing their best by their daughter.

Inappropriate and offensive comments that are alleged to have been made to the victim in this case by Police are under investigation.

I can understand that finding enough evidence to make an arrest would be difficult.
But I can’t understand why police were unable to have the website shut down and to warn people about the abhorrent activity of the group far, far sooner.

Normal for whom?

November 6, 2013

The depraved behaviour of the self-titled Roast Busters isn’t regarded that way by their friends:

Female friends of the Roast Busters have spoken out in support of the boys accused of having group sex with intoxicated underage girls.

The girls, aged between 16 and 19, are standing by their friends, saying their behaviour is nothing more than normal teen antics.

“They are good guys,” said one. “They can make really dumb decisions but they are being teenagers.

“What they are doing is very wrong… they should not have put this on Facebook. They wanted to be famous, they got their fame but in the worst possible way.”

But the girls, who do not wish to be named, claim the bravado we’ve seen from the Roast Busters is just that – even though police believe the group may have exploited a number of drunk, underage victims.

“People know that they are Roast Busters and they go hang out with them and do stuff [... ] but they’re not rapists, they’re cool dudes.” . . .

The female friends of the Roast Busters told 3 News that Facebook anarchy is now the norm, so too is drunken “group sex”.

“People send it on Snapchat, who cares [...] it’s normal in west Auckland, its normal here […] Not for everybody though it’s just the young ones 13- to 15-year-olds – that’s what they do.” . . .

Normal for whom?

Not anyone with an appreciation of what’s right and wrong.

Not anyone who understands that actions have consequences.

Not anyone with respect for themselves and other people.


Prevention vs prosecution

November 5, 2013

Abhorrent, cruel, deviant, disgusting, inhuman, immoral, shameful, sickening . . .

All of these adjectives can be applied to the people portrayed on the sexploitation Facebook page, Roast Busters, and their exploits.

The story so far raises lots of questions, one of which is why the police allowed the page to stay up for so long.

Last night 3 News revealed police had been monitoring the ‘Roast Busters’ for two-and-a-half years, but it wasn’t until 3 News contacted Facebook that their page on the social networking site was taken down.

In videos uploaded to the internet, 17- and 18-year-old Auckland men brag about their sexual conquests, who are often drunk and underage. The teenagers also actively recruit new members. . .

Police told 3 News they haven’t been able to take action against the group – aside from a warning – because none of the victims have laid a formal complaint.

“We would love to take some positive action for these girls and others who may be victims in the future, but without actual evidence my hands are tied,” says Detective Inspector Bruce Scott.

“None of the girls have been brave enough to make formal statements to us so we can take it to a prosecution stage or even consider a prosecution stage.”

And the Roast Busters’ Facebook page was allowed to stay online for similar reasons.

“These things obviously did breach Facebook’s terms and conditions, but it takes somebody to see it and make that complaint in order for action to happen,” says Mr Lyons.

Are the need to gather evidence for prosecution and the prevention of more crime mutually exclusive?

Could the police not have identified the perpetrators, interviewed them and alerted their families and schools to what was happening?

Couldn’t they at least have alerted the public to protect the girls and possibly prevent more rapes?

Answering those questions might be easier than finding out how people in a supposedly civilised country can be so divorced from civilised behaviour.

The Harmful Digital Communications Bill being introduced to parliament by Justice Minister Judith Collins might help prevent this sort of abuse in future.

“The Harmful Digital Communications Bill sends a strong message to those who continue to harass and harm others online – time’s up.”

Research shows one in five New Zealand high school students has experienced some sort of cyber bullying or harassment.

“Cyber bullying can have a devastating effect on people’s lives, particularly young people. This Bill will protect victims and hold perpetrators to account.”

Proposals in the Bill include:

  • Creating a new civil enforcement regime that includes setting up or appointing an approved agency as the first port of call for complaints.
  • Allowing people to take serious complaints to the District Court, which will be able to issue remedies such as take-down orders and cease-and-desist notices.
  • Providing a legislative mechanism for people to easily and quickly request the removal of harmful content from websites, which also clarifies the law relating to website hosts (called a “safe harbour” provision).
  • Making it an offence to send messages and post material online with intent to cause harm, punishable by up to three months imprisonment or a $2,000 fine.
  • Creating a new offence of incitement to commit suicide, even in situations when a person does not attempt to take their own life, punishable by up to three years imprisonment.

The Bill includes changes to relevant criminal and civil law to ensure they cover all forms of harmful communications, regardless of whether tormentors use “online” or “offline” means. It also future-proofs the laws against technological advances, to ensure they remain relevant.

But it will take a lot more than legislation to address the causes of  these heinous crimes.

The FAQs on the Bill are here.


Copyright breach is theft

October 29, 2013

The media’s fascination with Kim Dotcom has irritated me.

He seems to hae been given a lot more attention and treated far more sympathetically than he deserves.

It will be interesting to see if they’re a little less enamoured with him after this news:

The Publisher’s Association has expressed disappointment that links to author Eleanor Catton’s Man Booker Prize winning novel The Luminaries have been made available for free download by a New Zealand registered company.

The novel was discovered on Kim Dotcom’s file-sharing website MEGA yesterday.

“Everyone is rightly proud of the achievements of Eleanor Catton on the world stage so to see her work given away without her consent by a fellow Kiwi company is really appalling,” Publishers Association of New Zealand president Sam Elworthy says.

“We should be doing all we can to support the good work of not only these two artists but also every New Zealander who makes an honest living from his or her creative works.

“MEGA should do more to ensure this kind of thing does not occur.”

Victoria University Press spokesman Fergus Barrowman, which publishes Catton’s novel The Luminaries, said the fact a creative work was easy accessible for free over the internet did not make it right to do so.

“We live in a digital age and authors and publishers recognise the changing nature of how readers want to access material. We made sure that The Luminaries was available as an ebook to New Zealand readers in a timely and accessible way, and we are delighted so many of them have taken advantage of this.

“We are not surprised to be told that there are also illegal sources, but are nevertheless very disappointed,” Barrowman says.

Elworthy says the discovery of Catton’s work on a site such as MEGA was the “tip of the iceberg”.

“Just a few weeks ago we had to ask MEGA to take down an entire educational textbook written by a New Zealand author and which had been made available on their site. This type of illegal sharing is happening at an alarming rate and really hurting New Zealand creatives.

“New Zealand books and music are enjoying enormous success right now. We’re getting creative work out to millions in all sorts of formats all around the world. But while Eleanor Catton is doing big things for our international reputation, it’s disappointing to see her being ripped off by a website which calls itself a New Zealand company,” Elworthy says.

Kim Dotcom is fighting extradition to the United States on copyright and racketeering charges over the operation of his previous file locker site Megaupload.

It’s difficult to make a living from creative endeavours anywhere, harder still in New Zealand where there’s such a small market.

The Man Booker win will have exposed Catton’s work to a much bigger audience but thanks to the free downloads she won’t be getting all the money she’s earned from it.

Beach of copyright, illegal sharing, call it what you will, it’s theft of intellectual property.


What really matters

October 24, 2013

While the Auckland mayor’s misdeeds grab the headlines, the government is concentrating on what really matters which includes reducing crime.

In her speech to the Police Association’s annual conference Police Minister Anne Tolley said:

. . . In the last fiscal year there were almost 30,000 fewer recorded crimes.

Over the past three years there were over 75,000 fewer crimes.

Offences fell by 7.4 per cent in the past year – with a 17.4 per cent reduction over three years.

So the focus on crime prevention by our frontline officers is getting the results we all wanted – safer communities and fewer victims of crime.

And I want to thank Police staff for their great efforts. . . .

Less crime means fewer victims and the financial, physical and personal costs they face.

It means less time and money spent on catching, trying, monitoring, imprisoning and rehabilitating criminals.

It means fewer prisons.

It means safer neighbourhoods and greater personal security.

It is very good news.

Earlier today at the Police Association Annual Conference I thanked the Police for the important part they’re playing in helping to make our streets and communities safer for families.


Cat smuggles to cat burglar?

October 21, 2013

Prison guards discovered a cat was smuggling pot into a prison in Moldova.

The report doesn’t say if the feline was delivering the contraband to a cat burglar, nor if it was called Smokey.

 

 


Good police work

September 16, 2013

Just a few days after the murder of a farm worker at Elderslie in our neighbourhood the police have made two arrests.

The first man accused of the murder appeared in court on Friday, a second was arrested at the weekend and is due to appear in court today.

A murder so close to home has opened our eyes to a dark side of our district of which we were unaware.

It is reassuring to know that this criminal element is countered by good police work.


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