Immoral’s not illegal

October 30, 2014

Young men boasted about raping drunk teenagers on Facebook.

Police investigated but have decided not to lay charges.

Police have completed a multi-agency investigation, Operation Clover, into the activities of a group calling themselves “The Roast Busters”. The 12 month enquiry focused on incidents involving allegations of sexual offending against a number of girls in the Waitemata Police district and wider Auckland area.

Following a lengthy and complex investigation, charges are not being laid by Police at this time regarding 8 incidents involving 7 victims and 5 suspects.

The officer in charge of Operation Clover, Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, says this is a carefully considered decision taking into account a range of factors:

“These include the evidential test as required under the Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines. These state that there must be a reasonable prospect of conviction for police to initiate a prosecution. Other factors included the wishes of individual victims, the admissible evidence available, the nature of the offence and the age of the parties at the time of the offending.

A substantial review of the cases has also been undertaken by the Auckland Crown Solicitor, which has been taken into account by Police in reaching its decision.

“Throughout the investigation the priority was for the welfare and privacy of the girls involved, and ensuring that all support options were made available to them.

“We have emphasised to both the victims and suspects that there is no time limit for reporting sexual offending.

“This is an important message to potential victims who have decided not to seek police assistance at this time.” said Ms Malthus.

Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock, who provided oversight of Operation Clover, says Police is taking the rare step of releasing the investigation overview report written by Ms Malthus:

“We are doing this to provide transparency and assist the public in understanding the complexities involved, plus the steps taken by the Operation Clover team.

“The investigation was a sustained focus for 12 months and I am satisfied that every investigative avenue available to the team has been fully explored.

“Should any further disclosures be made they will be assessed on a case by case basis and investigated appropriately.” said Mr Lovelock.

Investigation approach

Operation Clover commenced in November 2013 with support from Child Youth and Family (CYF), and the Auckland service provider HELP- Support for Sexual Abuse Survivors.

At its peak, the multi-agency team comprised over 20 staff, including 13 specialist police investigators.

Operation Clover adopted a mass allegation framework for the canvassing of all girls. Child Protection Protocols between Police and CYF were followed for girls under 17. The Adult Sexual Assault Investigation protocol was followed for girls over 17.

Canvassing phase

• 110 girls canvassed.

• 44 girls re-approached for clarification.

• 25 girls invited to provide formal statements.

• 5 girls provided formal statements.

Operation Clover began with an extensive analysis of social media. This identified girls who appeared to be engaged in online discussions that were cause for concern. As a result of this analysis and other referrals 110 girls were identified for follow up action.

Forty-four of these 110 girls were then re-approached to better understand the information or disclosures obtained.

This resulted in formal interviews being requested from 25 of the 44 girls. Following extensive consideration by these 25 girls and their parents/caregivers, the majority declined to engage in a formal interview process.

Formal complaints

• 8 incidents involving 7 victims were identified and investigated, including 2 of the complaints received prior to the commencement of Operation Clover.

While no offences were excluded, the principal offences investigated were:

1) Sexual Violation – Rape and Unlawful Sexual Connection. (S128B Crimes Act 1961)

2) Sexual Conduct with young person under 16 (S134 Crimes Act 1961)

Persons of interest and suspects phase

• 30 persons of interest identified as persons of interest.

• 5 males identified as suspects

In total 35 males were considered by Operation Clover. Persons of interest were those against whom formal complaints had not been received, however their behaviour was of interest and warranted further enquiry.

We want to be clear that the basis for interviews of the majority of these individuals was hearsay and rumour. There is little evidence in existence to accuse the majority of persons of interest of being engaged in criminal sexual offending.

Of the 35, the culpability of 5 suspects was considered for prosecution.

Other investigative activity

The investigation included the analysis of computers, smart phones, internet accounts and social media activity and evidence gathered by way of search warrants and production orders. Support for the investigation team included the police Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) team, and the police Electronic Crime Laboratory (ECL).

Wider issues arising from Operation Clover

Detective Inspector Malthus says Operation Clover has highlighted some significant issues for New Zealand:

“The investigation overview report cites research by the Auckland service provider HELP- Support for Sexual Abuse Survivors in partnership with the Tu Wahine Trust. Their research suggests that there are many barriers which young people feel in relation to the disclosure of sexual violence to adults.

“The prevalence of alcohol in the lives of the teenagers interviewed, both male and female, was a concern to the Operation Clover team.

“There was also a poor understanding amongst the males and females spoken to as what ‘consent’ was. In addition there was an equally poor understanding by these teenagers as to the role alcohol consumption played in potentially negating the ability to consent.

“It is suggested that sexual education programmes may be enhanced by raising the emphasis around the issues of consent particularly when linked to alcohol and drugs and the ability of individuals to provide informed consent.” said Ms Malthus.

 

 

Police Commissioner Mike Bush says:

Operation Clover has been a priority investigation which has utilised all the expert resources needed within Police and our support agencies.

I have taken a close interest in this investigation and I am confident police have conducted a thorough and professional enquiry in what has been a challenging and complex case. The Operation Clover team has ensured that victims have been the primary concern throughout.

I accept that the decision not to lay charges will prompt a range of reactions. The behaviour of this group caused a significant public response and there was a strong expectation in the minds of many that a prosecution would result.

I also acknowledge that questions remain around the initial handling of the investigation prior to the commencement of Operation Clover. We must await the outcome of the IPCA investigation into these matters before we can address these questions. We put victims at the centre of everything we do and we will consider the IPCA report very carefully.

The investigation overview report of Detective Inspector Karyn Malthus, together with the research report from the service provider HELP – Support for Survivors of Sexual Abuse in partnership with Tu Wahine Trust, highlights some difficult issues for our communities. An example is the barriers which young people experience in disclosing unwanted sexual activity to adults. . . .

These are complex issues and I am committed to ensuring that, with our focus on prevention, police will play its part in addressing them with our partner agencies.

We know that sexual assault in all age groups is under-reported. I am committed to ensuring that victims of all ages have trust in police and they can be assured their complaint will be thoroughly and professionally investigated.

I would like to acknowledge Detective Inspector Malthus and the Operation Clover team for their commitment to this 12 month enquiry. I would also like to thank our support agencies including CYF and HELP – Support for Survivors of Sexual Abuse for their expert assistance and support.

The police report is here.

It appears that reluctance on behalf of at least some victims could have made it difficult for police to gather enough evidence to be confident of gaining a prosecution.

This  isn’t uncommon in rape cases.

It’s easy for those of us not involved to judge the perpetrators guilty from the information that has been made public.

But immoral behaviour isn’t necessarily illegal and something that looks like illegal behaviour isn’t necessarily enough to secure a conviction.

There might not be sufficient evidence to prosecute, but there is enough in the public domain to justify calling the whole episode shameful.

There are also lots of questions left unanswered, some of which are difficult to canvas without appearing to blame the victims.

Whatever the provocation, there is no excuse for rape and being too drunk to say no is too drunk to give consent.


It’s about trust

September 15, 2014

When it comes to Cyber Protection, you can trust Dot Com. #YeahRight


All public prisons to be full working prisons

September 11, 2014

All public prisons in New Zealand will become full working prisons by 2017, and ex-prisoners will receive post-release drug addiction treatment if National is returned to government, says Corrections Spokesperson Anne Tolley.

“The National-led Government has revolutionised the approach to offender rehabilitation to reduce reoffending rates and ensure there are fewer victims of crime,” says Mrs Tolley.

“By expanding the working prisons model from three to 16 prisons, every eligible prisoner will have a structured 40 hour-a-week timetable to include work experience, skills training and education, alongside drug and alcohol treatment and other rehabilitation programmes.  This will give them the skills they need to live a crime-free life outside prison.

“The vast majority of prisoners don’t want to be sitting around in their cells doing nothing. The working prisons model gives them the opportunity to learn good habits and take responsibility for their lives. And after a decent day’s work they are also more manageable for prison staff.” 

The working prisons expansion will not require additional funding, and can be established through reprioritisation of resources.

“Our focus on rehabilitation and reintegration will also be further strengthened by a new post-release specialist addiction treatment programme for prisoners, so support continues in the community when offenders are at risk of returning to drugs and alcohol, which we know are major drivers of crime,” says Mrs Tolley.

Offenders who have taken part in intensive residential drug treatment unit programmes while inside prison, who are on parole or released on conditions, will be required to attend specialist drug and alcohol addiction aftercare programmes once released.

This will be introduced for up to 1,000 offenders each year, at an estimated cost of up to $6 million a year.

“We don’t want offenders returning to their old ways and creating more victims when they are released,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Places on addiction treatment programmes have increased by 1500 per cent since 2008. We don’t want this excellent work undone on release, which we know can be a difficult time for offenders.

“For those who need continued support, the new aftercare programmes will provide the help they need to keep them away from substances.

“This will reduce their chances of recidivism, as we progress towards our Better Public Services target of a 25 per cent reduction in reoffending by 2017.

“The expansion of working prisons and the introduction of aftercare programmes will also help National achieve its new target of reducing crime by 20 per cent by 2017,” says Mrs Tolley.

This policy will help rehabilitate prisoners, equip them for work when they are released and by doing so reduce re-offending.

 

National will make every prison a fully working prison by 2017. This will give prisoners the opportunity to learn new skills and take responsibility for their lives. ntnl.org.nz/1Ax0kFX #Working4NZ


Two killed at WINZ office

September 1, 2014

Two people are dead and another seriously injured after being shot in the Ashburton WINZ office:

 

. . . A balaclava-clad man carrying a sawn-off shotgun entered the Work and Income office on the corner of Cass and Moore streets and fired several shots before fleeing on a bike.

The gunman was last seen heading towards the Ashburton river. Shots have reportedly been heard since coming from the river. 

A source told Fairfax Media that one person was shot dead on site and another died at Ashburton Hospital.

Police confirmed that two people had been killed and the third person was in hospital. . . .

This is firstly a tragedy for those who died, their family friends and workmates.

It is also a shock for the community and other public servants:

Ashburton District Mayor Angus McKay said he felt “weak at the knees” when he heard about the shooting at the town’s Work and Income office.

“Ashburton is not this kind of town,” he said.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett called it “an extreme situation and tragedy”, adding that all resources were going into looking after WINZ staff.

She was travelling down to the town this afternoon.

Public Service Association (PSA) said the shooting was a tragedy and nobody should go to work in fear that they might not return home. 

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragedy,”

“We don’t know what the cause is, but we will be supporting our members from Ashburton Work and Income at this terrible time. . . .

This has already been used for political point scoring on Twitter.

It shouldn’t be.

No political views justify killing innocent people at work.

It’s a tragedy.


Hoardings hooligans

August 18, 2014

Another election, another spate of attacks on hoardings.

And who wins from the hooliganism?

This letter from today’s ODT makes it clear:

I own a sign company. Local body and national elections are good business for me and others in our trade. We get commissioned to produce and erect party signs and predetermined locations around the country. Every party has the same rights to advertise in these spaces.

My question is, why do folk feel the need to pull dow, deface and destroy these hoardings> It is a total waste of time and money, and to be fair we (sing writers) are the only winners. Drawing phallic symbols, horns, of Nazi symbols on oppositions’ signs does not promoted your own cause – if anything it only shows the mentality behind your own ideology.

Here is an out-there idea: why not just accept that every party will try to promote itself this way and get on with selling your own policies and values?

I’m no social political expert but I know many of us look at Gaza and wonder how the parties involved can be so hell-bent on destroying each other, yet the behaviour of the sign smashers, while not life-threatening, is not a million miles way.

Show some leadership and if that’s too hard, just grow up.

Bruce Carvell, Managing director Williams Signs & Graphix Ltd.

Some of the hooliganism is politically motivated, some isn’t.

This year the has been a disturbing level of anti-Semitism and personal denigration in some areas.

All of it is expensive in time, energy and money for the volunteers who fund, erect, clean and re-erect the damaged hoardings.

I’d like to think that people make their decisions on how to vote on a lot more than hoardings.

But they’re legitimate advertising and should be left alone to give their message rather than demonstrate the idiocy of those who for political or other reasons deface, destroy or steal them.


Gang busters

August 5, 2014

 An all of government plan is aiming to tackle gangs:

Police and Corrections Minister Anne Tolley says the Government is taking action to tackle and prevent gang crime, to reduce the harm it causes to families and communities.

For the first time, a multi-agency approach involving intelligence-gathering, enhanced law enforcement, prevention, intervention, rehabilitation and reintegration will be adopted to address New Zealand gangs and transnational crime groups. 

“The crime rate is at a 35-year low, recorded crimes have fallen by over 20 per cent in the past four years, and reoffending is down by over 12 per cent, so the time is right to focus on tackling gang crime, which causes disproportionate harm in our country,” says Mrs Tolley. 

“We want to ensure that Police and other agencies have the tools they need to hold gangs to account, while breaking the cycle of offending by preventing young people from joining these organisations, and helping current members to exit gang life.

“As gangs continue to expand and adapt, law enforcement and legislation needs to be strengthened, while we also require a long-term plan to address what is a complex issue, to halt the intergenerational grip which gang life has on families, and to reduce the number of victims, both within these families and in the wider community.” 

Known members of gangs comprise 0.1 per cent (4,000 people) of the population aged 17 and over, but in 2013 were responsible for 25 per cent of homicide related charges and in the first quarter of 2014 have been charged with:

34 per cent of class A/B drug offences

36 per cent of kidnapping and abduction offences

25 per cent of aggravated robbery/robbery offences

26 per cent of grievous assault offences

These gang members average 53 offences in their lifetime, and the 50 members with the highest number of charges average 229 charges each.

Almost half of serious offences by gang members are family violence related and, from a 2013 sample of 50 high risk gang members, 74 per cent of gang children have been abused or neglected on multiple occasions.

“The emotional cost to the victims of gang crime and to those affected by gang family violence is huge, as is the cost to the taxpayer, and we believe a new approach will be more effective in reducing the harm caused by gangs,” says Mrs Tolley.

Those are very compelling reasons for tackling gangs.

The whole of Government action plan addresses the issue through four initiatives:

A multi-agency Gang Intelligence Centre led by Police to collect and combine intelligence on real-time gang activity to support investigation, prevention and enforcement, while also identifying vulnerable children and family members who may need social service support. It will also identify young people at risk of joining gangs, so that agencies can target interventions to help steer them away from gang life.

Start at Home: a programme of work to refocus existing social initiatives, and develop some new programmes, to address the intergenerational nature of gang life, to support families and members turn away from the gang lifestyle, and to help support communities where there is a large gang presence, by reducing gang tension. It will also include enhanced prisoner reintegration and rehabilitation programmes by Corrections targeted at gang members, with access to violence and addiction services and support to access training, education, employment and housing, possibly in new locations away from gang life. Safety planning and support will also be provided to women with gang connections at risk of family violence on release from prison.

Gangs do not need to be a fact of life in New Zealand. Breaking the cycle of gang life starts at home. ntnl.org.nz/1qK8C9u #Working4NZ

Two multi-agency Dedicated Enforcement Taskforces will be established. The Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Border Protection Taskforce will target drug trafficking networks to disrupt new gangs attempting to enter New Zealand and restrict and monitor international gang travel. The Criminal Asset Confiscation Taskforce will strengthen asset recovery efforts, prevent financing of crime and target profits received from crime.

Strengthen legislation: The Sentencing Act will be amended to allow courts to stipulate 24-hour GPS monitoring on high-risk gang affiliates following release from a prison sentence of two years or less, as part of their conditions of release or sentence. This will prevent them from associating with other members at gang headquarters or places where gangs congregate. It will also provide intelligence on their activities. The proposed changes to the Sentencing Act were recently announced to allow for 24-hour GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders.

Other legislation will also be reviewed. Officials are to provide advice by the end of the year on options around Firearm Prohibition Orders (FPOs), which could prohibit serious gang offenders from possessing or obtaining firearms, and also penalise anyone who knowingly supplies firearms to someone subject to an FPO. Police and the Ministry of Justice will explore Interim Freezing Orders on bank accounts and cash, and possible unexplained wealth laws, for those convicted of drug trafficking or similar offences. To prevent and disrupt drug trafficking within New Zealand and between the North and South Islands, Police and Justice will investigate a pilot of drug detector dogs at key domestic ports (maritime and air).   

“This is a comprehensive plan and Government agencies will have an important role to play in the years ahead,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Gangs don’t need to be a fact of life in New Zealand. They are criminal organisations, and inflict serious harm on anyone who comes into contact with them.”

We will empower courts to make our communities safer with 24-hour GPS monitoring of high-risk gang members out of prison, deterring them from associating with other gang members or visiting gang headquarters. ntnl.org.nz/1qK8C9u #Working4NZ

Q and As:

What is the cost to New Zealand from gang activity?
Apart from the harm they cause communities, Police analysis of just one gang family showed that over three generations they had 423 victims, costing the taxpayer around $5 million in justice costs and benefits costs.

Corrections estimates the proportion of gang members in prison has increased from 15 per cent to around 28 per cent over the past eight years, with each prisoner costing the taxpayer approximately $100,000 each year.

Gang members reoffend at twice the rate of non-gang offenders, so are more likely to return to prison.

What is the cost to families?
Five out of nine child deaths in New Zealand between 2009 and 2012 involved step fathers with gang connections.

55 per cent of gang members are dependent on welfare. 61 per cent have outstanding child support owing. 71 per cent of clan labs have links to organised crime, and children were found at 33 per cent of drug dealing houses uncovered in 2013.

So our plan to crack down on gangs and help vulnerable families is another tool in the arsenal to fight the drivers of misery in society – like poor education, family violence, crime, welfare dependency and hopelessness.

If things don’t change, then imagine the wasted human potential and community harm that might arise. We want to change the life course of these kids, who’ve already had such a difficult start in life. Because if we don’t, they have a high chance of heading down the path to state care, crime and welfare dependency.

Which agencies are involved in this plan?
Police, Corrections, Justice, the Ministry of Social Development, Education, Health, Te Puni Kokiri, Housing New Zealand, Inland Revenue and Customs.

How will this tie in with existing programmes?
This is much wider than a law and order issue. Families identified as needing support will be able to benefit from Government programmes such as Whānau Ora, Children’s Teams, Social Sector Trials, our recently announced Family Violence package, Neighbourhood Policing Teams, the Youth Crime Action Plan and our initiatives to reduce reoffending. We want to prevent gang activity and reduce crime and violence in families and communities. We also want to offer young people an alternative to gang life.

What’s different about this idea?
If we want to bring the crime rate down even further, and make communities safer, then we have to tackle the offending which is more difficult to reduce. We want to see fewer victims of gang crime, including fewer victims within gang families. The reality is that we can’t arrest our way out of this issue, so law and order is only one part of the answer.

For the first time we have brought Government agencies together to help gather and share information, and ensure there is a collaborative approach to dealing with gangs, supporting the families of gang members, and putting in place some long-term approaches to this issue.  

What are the timeframes and cost?
The Gang Intelligence Centre and Taskforces will be funded through Budget 2015 and established by December 2015. Funding of around $1.6 million over two years is required for the Intelligence Centre and detailed costing work for the taskforces is currently underway.

Other work is expected to be funded from baselines.

What other work is taking place in prisons?
Gang members have been able to access the huge increase in places on addiction, rehabilitation, education and skills programmes over the past three years. Corrections will work more closely with these gang members to encourage them to access and benefit from rehab. The Department is also focusing on improving their identification of gang affiliates, as well as protecting prisoners from gang intimidation and recruitment.  

What initiatives will be introduced through the Start at Home programme?
In addition to existing programmes, agencies will work with local government, community providers, local businesses and iwi to develop local initiatives, alongside the work already being done by Neighbourhood Policing Teams. This could include community events with access to recreational activities and health and education services. It could also include schemes similar to the Community Garden in the Gisborne area, where women from gang families were supported with access to education, skills, budgeting and social services.  http://www.tenone.police.govt.nz/tenone/June14News2.htm

These events and activities are the drivers for agencies to offer support through a range of measures.

How will success be measured?
Reductions in crime, especially violent crime, will be measured as part of the Better Public Services targets – the plan will also be continuously reviewed by Police. The Gang Intelligence Centre will be gathering up to the minute information which should give Police important intelligence on the effect these initiatives are having. As well as crimes committed, this will also include successes on steering young people away from gang life, who had been identified as being at risk. Through the close working relationship between agencies in this dedicated unit, it will also gather information on how violence towards wives, partners and children within the gang families is being dealt with and prevented, and what additional action and support is required.

 Gangs have been a blight on too many communities for far too long.

This gang-busting approach will reduce crime and the harm it does to its victims which include families of gang members.


What matters

July 28, 2014

The sideshow might be entertaining for the media and political tragics.

But what really matters is that government policies are working for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

One of the most important of those is in crime reduction which has economic and social benefits.

Crime is awful for victims and costly for taxpayers.

Reducing crime reduces the number of victims and it also redirects criminals to more honest and gainful pursuits.

 

We’re making our communities safer. New Zealand is experiencing its lowest crime rate since 1978. http://ntnl.org.nz/1kexYhI #Working4NZ


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