Response of the New Zealand Police to the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct: Second monitoring report.

In 2007, the Commission of Inquiry into Police Conduct (the Commission) released its report. The report criticised the historical conduct, including sexual conduct, of some police officers and their associates.

This is our Office’s second report about how well the New Zealand Police (the Police) are responding to the Commission’s recommendations. Our first monitoring report found that the Police had responded in a committed manner to the Commission’s findings, and had put in place a comprehensive work programme to begin to give effect to the Commission’s recommendations. This second monitoring report assesses whether the Police have effectively implemented the projects and initiatives in that work programme.

Our third monitoring report in 2012 will assess what sustainable improvements in policing have resulted from the Police’s implementation of that work programme.

The implementation of the Police’s response is at a critical point. Without more concerted effort now, there is a risk that progress will stall, the achievements of the Police’s change programme to date will dissipate, and the benefits of change will not be realised. There is also a risk that progress will not be achieved on an ongoing basis. The benefits of change include the public having confidence in the integrity and conduct of the Police. Public confidence is essential for effective policing.

An appropriate culture is fundamental to achieving the necessary changes. The Police need to continue to observe, reflect on, and critique the cultural changes they are making.

In our view, the Police need to make four important changes. They need to:

  • build on the high degree of commitment at senior levels to change, and ensure that all staff understand and support the need for change within the Police;
  • further value and learn from the views of people external to the Police;
  • monitor the service effects of the changes they are making; and
  • improve the behaviour of the relatively small number of police officers whose behaviour is inconsistent with the Code of Conduct, including instances of sexually inappropriate behaviour.

These four changes form the first four and the most important of our recommendations.

The Police have done a lot of work already. They have implemented a Code of Conduct, conducted nationally consistent ethics training for almost all staff, dealt with inappropriate email and Internet usage, and significantly improved performance appraisal completion rates. But there is still much to do – the Commission’s recommendations will not be implemented just because new systems and processes are in place. They will be implemented when those new systems and processes are in place, supported, used properly, monitored (and adjusted, if necessary), and are producing the required effect. Effective implementation will stand or fall on whether the Police embed the necessary cultural changes.

The new systems and processes will be able to achieve the required effect when the Police have a critical mass of police officers who understand and support the need for change. That cultural change, in my view, would have to include no tolerance of any sexually inappropriate behaviour by police officers. Effective performance management is an important tool the Police can use to help reinforce and embed the necessary cultural changes.

During the course of our work on this report, a new Auditor-General, Lyn Provost, was appointed. Lyn was previously a Deputy Commissioner of Police. Lyn has complied with our Office’s conflict of interest policy. Since joining our Office she has had absolutely no involvement in, or influence over, any of our work on the New Zealand Police, including this report. I, as the Deputy Auditor-General with the same powers and functions as the Auditor-General, have overseen this work.

I would like to thank the staff in the Police and other organisations, including members of Te Ohaaki a Hine – National Network for Ending Sexual Violence Together – and the New Zealand Police Association, for the assistance they provided during this audit. In particular, I would like to thank the Police’s two liaison staff for the prompt and professional assistance provided.

PS signature

Phillippa Smith
Deputy Controller and Auditor-General

18 June 2010

page top