Is The The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) a Waste of Your Time?

IPCA on their website claim to be independent and to take complaints about the police seriously. Readers’ experience appears to be very different.

There is supposed to be a complaints process in place as outlined on the actual Police website: First, you are supposed to make a complaint to the police:

This process addresses serious concerns about:

  • the misconduct or neglect of duty by a Police employee
  • a policy, procedure or practice of New Zealand Police
  • the standard of service you have received.

If you complain about Police you can expect to:

  • have your complaint taken and treated seriously
  • be treated courteously and with respect
  • not be discriminated against
  • ask questions and receive helpful answers
  • have your complaint investigated thoroughly and impartially
  • have the services of an interpreter if required
  • be advised of the procedures for actioning your complaint
  • have your complaint recorded.

An allegation that an officer had changed the location of a speed trap was taken to court and then to the IPCA.

As part of the IPCA complaints process the complaint has to be raised with the police in the first instance.

“I’ve no idea what I expected but the meeting  didn’t go well at all. The senior officer smirked as a complaint of such gravity was made and chose to make remarks such as “well you shouldn’t have been speeding”.

When this didn’t work I took my case to IPCA:

The Independent Police Conduct Authority considers complaints against the New Zealand Police.

We are independent of the Police and the Government. We make findings based on fact and we do not take directions from the Police or anyone else when we make those findings.

The fact is that this was not a complaint about feeling aggrieved at being caught speeding, this is a far deeper issue – the officer allegedly moved the location of the speed trap.

So  I followed due process with the IPCA, which after months of correspondence terminated in this email:

Kia ora Mr XXXX

The Authority has given you its final decision, and as such, no investigation will be commenced.

The next step for you would be to request a Judicial Review. This occurs in the High Court, so I suggest you seek legal advice regarding that process.

Thank you

XXXXXXXXX: Senior Case Resolution Officer
Independent Police Conduct Authority, PO Box 25221, Wellington 6146, Aotearoa New Zealand
www.ipca.govt.nz

The complaint and subsequent correspondence:

YOUR COMPLAINT

Please tell us about the Police actions you wish to complain about. Answer any questions that are relevant to your complaint

Where did it happen?

Address/location Address/Location: State highway 6
Town/City: Stoke
Town/City Stoke

Who was involved?

Police officers

Please provide the names of any Police staff you wish to complain about. If you do not know the names, please provide any other identifying details such as rank, badge number, and/or a description of the officer. Police officer/employee name if known: xxxxxx

Others

If possible, please provide the names and contact details of any other people who may be able to help the Authority to resolve your complaint. This may include witnesses or other people involved in the incident.

What happened?

Please tell us about the Police actions you want to complain about. On the evening in question we were travelling along state highway 6 at approximately 100km. Approaching the xxxxxxx overpass we spotted a patrol car a few meters ahead tucked into the bushes.The view of the vehicle was obscured by the bridge supports. It came as quite a surprise at it was so well hidden until we were upon it. Travelling on I viewed the patrol car in the rear view mirror pull out into the dual carriageway and catch up with us. As we entered the single lane of the highway the officer put on his blue lights to pull us over. In my opinion this was a highly dangerous manoeuvre, if I had stopped in that area my family and I would have either blocked the highway or been exposed to extreme danger. I continued on for approx 4km until I found somewhere safe to pull in.

The officer approached the car and I under the circumstances I felt it prudent to record the conversation on my iPhone for reference.

The officer advised me of the speed he had recorded. I said nothing. He then proceeded to check my details in his patrol car and returned where he also informed me that the warrant was out.

I asked my wife if she knew about this as she always deals with the warrants etc. It turns out that a computer glitch at Toyota had failed to alert us as was normal. This infringement was subsequently waived.

I am aware that an officer has to establish a tracking history and the radar must have a clear field of view to produce an accurate reading. The officer was parked in such a position as to make this impossible. (photos taken)

The circumstances in which the officer tried to pull us over was also in contravention of the operating manual. A position must be chosen enabling the officer to pull cars over ensuring the safety of the public.

I wrote to the ticket issuing department in Wellington pointing out my concerns asking them to waive the ticket or take this to court.

They refused to waive the ticket.

I have now received the police disclosure statement from PC xxxxxx and am shocked and concerned at comments signed of as a statement of truth.

Unfortunately it appears that the officer has found it necessary to make numerous FALSE and MISLEADING statements. I believe that the officer understands that the operation of the speed trap on that evening would have not given a reliable reading.

1. As he was parked in the bushes in the pitch dark on a moonless night with his back to traffic it was IMPOSSIBLE to establish a tracking history.

2. The officer has made a false statement and provided photos of his patrol vehicle in a totally different position to the actual lay-by used on the evening. He was parked in the first lay-by directly after the flyover bridge.

3. The officer states that I was aggressive. I believe this to be a cynical attempt to discredit me. I recorded the conversation which clearly demonstrates that very little was said and I was not in the least bit confrontation let alone ‘aggressive’.

4. The officer states that he invited me to ‘view the radar’ reading. The recording will show that this is a FALSE statement.

5. The officer states that ‘As the vehicles merged into a single lane from two it was in direct line of the rear radar at a distance of approx 90m.’

This is a FALSE statement. At that point the patrol vehicle was behind us attempting to pull us over. He put on his lights as we entered the single lane, which forms part of my original complaint to wellington. This was sent prior to receiving the statement of truth from xxxxx proving that he wasn’t where he now states his patrol car was.

My wife is also witness to where the officer was parked.

6. I asked the officer at the time why he was ‘hiding in the bushes’ and he stated that the week prior he had clocked people at 200km. I also believe this to be a FALSE statement. The officers statement of truth now states that he was directed to that position based on stats from the Transport Agency.

I would ask that the court proceedings be halted and my complaint be fully investigated.

Making a false statement is an offence and there are numerous here.

Attached is a diagram of where the officer was ACTUALLY parked. As you will see the radar is blocked by bushes and the bridge columns, the unimpeded field of view gives a matter of meters to secure a reading.

Supporting Information

Please provide information relevant to your complaint. Please note that the Authority will assess your complaint and consider future actions on the basis of this. Photographic and recorded proof. Also proof of the officers actual position is in the original complaint to Wellington and recorded in the discussion on the evening.

I would hope that honesty would prevail and the officer would now realise that he has made numerous mistakes.

Complaint Resolution

Please tell us how you would like to see your complaint resolved I would ask that on the basis of this false statement that the court proceedings be withdrawn.

I would like a full disclosure of the available options.

The complaint was not, in my opinion investigated and despite strong evidence supporting it, the officer was neither investigated or even questioned (as far as I am aware). I was told that the recording was inadmissible as ‘it could be doctored’.

After a long process I received a letter from the judge closing the complaint.

I appealed:

Dear Judge xxxxxx,

Thank you for your time and I fully understand the process. On the scale of things this is rather a trivial matter when you see the miscarriages of recent years.

Having said that I feel strongly that this officer is held accountable; it is important as this drives to the very heart of society. If the police cannot be trusted to tell the truth and need to lie in court just to secure a speeding conviction then what hope is there for the future? We’ll continue see more miscarriages of justice on Prime news for far more serious convictions.

I notice in your letter that you do not mention the recording I made on my phone of the event. Without this recording it is simply my word against that of the officer as you say, and it appears to me that courts will always side on that of the officer.

However, in my humble opinion, the recording is a game changer. (unless some quirk of law renders it inadmissible)

On the recording, you can hear that my wife and daughter are in the vehicle. The conversation focuses on the fact that a radar cannot be taken from the position the officer had chosen and clearly mentions the bridge. This is backed up in court as the officer states that he never used that position because of the issues. This would ordinarily support my defense.

I ask the officer the officer ‘why he was hidden in the bushes?’ to which he gives a clear reason for doing so. He states that ‘he was trying to catch people who had been doing in excess of 200kph’

This conversation could not have taken place if the officer was where he claimed to be as there were no buses or bridge.

The recording absolutely contradicts the officers’ version.

Now I understand that you will ask why this wasn’t presented in court.

I have been publishing motoring related websites for many years and as such have become quite expert in radar speed traps. We have tested many scenarios and even had police contribute to our articles. I had requested a court hearing to argue that taking a speed reading when hidden behind bridge supports and bushes was not only in clear breach of the Police Speed Detection Operations Manual but would give an unreliable reading.

By perverting the course of justice and giving false information to the court by moving the trap the officer undermined my whole defense. The court made a decision based on false evidence.

I appealed this and the appeal court magistrate stated that as the original court had made their decision there was nothing he could do and to make this complaint to IPCA.

I’ve attached the recording for your consideration.

Thank you again.

xxxxx

In receiving this I wrote the following which resulted in the close out mail from IPCA:

Dear Judge xxxxxx,

Thank you for your letter but before I move on would you please consider the following.

I came to IPCA because after exploring all avenues through the police with regards to this complaint, I kept meeting resistance. I would even go as far as to say that I was fobbed off.

The senior police officer Arnold-Kelly seemed to care not a damn that his officer was prepared to lie in court, under oath to secure a simple speeding conviction and his parting words we “well you shouldn’t have been speeding”.

Again, this has nothing at all to do with speeding but the far more serious case of perjury and committing criminal offenses by submitting false evidence.

I have to say, I feel just as frustrated with the IPCA process. It is my understanding from the IPCA that the organization is a place where the layman can come to have their grievances properly investigated. The process is full of hurdles and hoops all (I feel) designed to trip up the average person at every juncture.

My complaint is not minor and falls under the jurisdiction of the authority. It’s a case of my word against that of the officer except I have a witness and a recording to add weight to my allegation.  Yet without even speaking to the officer and asking for his account of the incident my complaint is fobbed off.

You refer to my recording and despite the officer excusing his actions for hiding in the bushes and the bridge clearly mentioned you say that it’s not admissible in court.  This conversation simply could not have happened if the officer was parked where he claims. He falsely claimed the position to be a lay-by further along the road. He later took photos claiming he was parked in clear view and no bushes or a bridge in sight.

I asked why he was hiding in the bushes and he claimed that he was ‘trying to catch speeders who were traveling at over 200kph’. This conversation just could not have taken place if he was telling the truth.

I was under the impression that this is not a court but a complaint to IPCA and therefore I would argue that it has to be taken into account.

You say that it could have been ‘doctored’. I do find this statement at the least, surprising.  The recording is not only time and date stamped on the phone, it would also have required the cooperation of the officer!

I’ve said this many times. Lying in court by the police eats away the very fabric of society – it cannot and must not be allowed to fester.

I ask again that this be thoroughly investigated.

Failing an investigation please inform me of my next action – would that be the Attorney-General?

Kind regards
xxxxxxx

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