Thursday, 2 April 2020

Police should release legal advice on how it will use powers

“Police have an opportunity to encourage respect for the law by being open and transparent about how its officers will use their new powers”, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Police Commissioner Mike Bush told the Epidemic Response Committee this morning he had received advice from Crown Law about how police officers should use their new powers. This advice should be released for three reasons.

“First, Police have extraordinary powers at present and a large degree of discretion in how officers use them.

“Second, there’s been a level of confusion about what New Zealanders can and can’t do during the lockdown.

“Finally, the Police Commissioner’s recent language has created some concern about whether the rule of law is being upheld.

“Mr Bush has said of Police monitoring of New Zealanders “We may even have a little drive with you to see where you're going”, told people who don’t comply with the rules they’ll be “having a little trip to our place”, and that “…it’s the smiling face of police until it needs to be something else”.

“These kinds of menacing euphemisms will do nothing to encourage respect for the law.

“The rule of law requires that rules are clear and publicly accessible. That is not the case at present.

“Police can’t demand respect from the public but must earn it. Police have an opportunity to encourage public respect for the law by being open and transparent and releasing Crown Law advice.

“New Zealanders need to know how Police’s extraordinary new powers are being exercised.”