Part 5: Need to maintain a focus on change

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

In this Part, we set out what we consider the Police need to do next, given the progress they have made with investigating adult sexual assaults, managing behaviour, and changing their workplace culture.

We acknowledge the progress that the Police have made in changing attitudes and behaviour. The Police do not intend to, and should not, lessen the attention they pay to these matters. Building and embedding desired cultural and practice changes needs constant attention and ongoing vigilance. The Commissioner of Police told us that this was "the beginning of the journey" and not the end of his personal commitment, or that of his executive team, to sustained improvement.

Assuming that change continues in the current and signalled direction, it should:

  • support ongoing improvement in how the Police investigate sexual assault cases;
  • support ongoing improvement in how the Police manage staff behaviour; and
  • remain supportive of, and in line with, the spirit and intent of the Commission's recommendations.

Certain risks need to be managed. Two of these are staff conduct risks. The Police need to ensure that staff understand and abide by the Code of Conduct and that they better understand and trust Early Intervention.

We also identified risks in ensuring that staff training in adult sexual assault investigation remains current and that the Police have enough understanding of the experience of adult sexual assault victims with the Police's services to ensure that they consistently achieve a high-standard response.

In particular, as discussed in paragraphs 2.20-2.23, there is a risk that the first person an adult sexual assault victim approaches within the Police might not have received training that enables them to respond with the necessary empathy or to record the contact. It is important that the first person to respond to an adult sexual assault victim understands, through training and supervision, how to follow due process and how to respond with appropriate sensitivity, regardless of where that person works within the Police.

We have not made detailed recommendations about how the Police should improve how they investigate sexual assaults, manage behaviour, and change their culture. The Police already know many of the specific improvements they need to make. Since our third monitoring report, the Police have also strengthened their overall monitoring of progress with the Commission's recommendations.17

We want to reiterate the need for the Police to continue giving attention and focus to building and embedding desired cultural and practice changes. It is important that the Police set up ways to measure improvements in their workplace culture.

We make suggestions for other improvements, and these are listed in the Appendix.

In 2017, we intend to complete our monitoring by looking at how the Police are demonstrating, through their own monitoring and reporting, that they are maintaining the high standards expected of them. The onus is on the Police to demonstrate how the organisation has changed, including setting and using appropriate benchmarks and measures to guide how they monitor and report on their progress.

17: We expect the Police to formally end work on implementing the Commission's recommendations at the appropriate time for each recommendation.

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