Police Professional Conduct glossary

Allegations

Allegations are intended to be descriptive of the types of behaviour or level of performance that are identified as undesirable. An allegation is used when there is a perception the described behaviour or level of performance has occurred and does not, on its own, indicate a substantiated or proven behaviour or level of performance.

When incidents are entered into the Professional Conduct database (IAPro), in general one or more Police employees who are involved are attached to that incident, and each involved employee will also have one or more allegation linked to them.

For example, a complainant may allege that the Police employee that dealt with them used unprofessional language, did not provide an adequate service and failed to investigate their complaint of a burglary.

There is therefore a complaint about one incident, with three allegations to be addressed with one Police employee.

Allegations are grouped into categories of behaviour or performance. Some allegations appear in more than one category, usually differentiated by having originated:

  1. Externally: reported by a member of the public, either an individual or organisation, and relating to Police interactions with the public in the course of duty;
  2. Internally: reported from within Police, either by an employee or through standard reporting channels. These relate primarily to operational reviews initiated internally, but may also include internal complaints about conduct in the workplace.
  3. Off duty: indicating the Police employee was not acting in their capacity as a member of Police, however the alleged behaviour is nevertheless a breach of the Police Code of Conduct (which governs some aspects of private life, while employed by Police).

The allegation types are:

  1. Use of force on duty: referring to when an employee potentially exceeds their lawful power in the use of force.
  2. Arrest/Custodial: when correct procedures for arrest, detention and holding in custody, in accordance with legal rights, are potentially not followed.
  3. Searches: relating to seizure, retention and return of property or evidence.
  4. Significant event
  5. Traffic Offences: relating to the potential illegal or inappropriate use of a Police vehicle on duty.
  6. Service Failure: referring to particular forms of potential breaches of official conduct (relating to a failure to provide adequate service) that are currently under active scrutiny
  7. Unprofessional Behaviour: referring to particular forms of potential breaches of official conduct, workplace behaviour or off-duty behaviour (relating to professionalism, tolerance and fairness) that are currently under active scrutiny.
  8. Breach of Official Conduct: referring to expected standards of behaviour and procedures when dealing with the public.
  9. Workplace Behaviour: referring to expected standards of behaviour with colleagues.
  10. Use of Police Resources: relating to the correct use of Police information and equipment.
  11. Off Duty Behaviour: referring to expected standards of behaviour that will maintain the Police reputation and Trust and Confidence while off-duty.

These statistics show counts of these groups of allegation categories, as well as the top 5 allegations (by number of allegations made) within each category.

The allegations in each category can be viewed through the links below.

Baton

The ASP baton is general issue and the primary baton used by Police. There are other types of specialist baton, but these may only be carried by staff who are specifically trained for its use and only when approved.
It is mandatory for every use of any baton to be reported and recorded, and for the appropriateness of that use to be assessed.

Complaints

A complaint is an incident where a person or entity external to Police makes formal allegations about the actions and/or conduct of a Police employee or the organisation that, in their view, have been detrimental or unsatisfactory.

There is a statutory requirement (section 15 of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act) that all such complaints will be notified to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).

Complaints may be made directly to the IPCA on their website, or to Police on this website, or by other means such as by letter.

Complaints made directly to the IPCA must be notified to Police, as stipulated by section 16 of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act.

If the complaint is made directly to Police, and the complainant does not wish to make it a formal complaint for notification to the IPCA, it will be dealt with at a local level without involvement from Police Professional Conduct and is then an ‘Expression of dissatisfaction’.

These statistics only include complaints that have been notified to the IPCA, and do not include expressions of dissatisfaction.

Districts

There are 12 NZ Police Districts with varying numbers of staff in each district that will be reflected in the varying numbers of complaints.

The Districts are:

  • Auckland City
  • Bay Of Plenty
  • Canterbury
  • Central
  • Counties/Manukau
  • Eastern
  • Northland
  • Southern
  • Tasman
  • Waikato
  • Waitematā
  • Wellington

For further information on the NZ Police Districts refer here.

Dog bite

There are actually two types of Police dog; ‘Detector dogs’ and ‘Patrol dogs’.

‘Detector dogs’ are trained solely to detect specific target odours for narcotics, firearms or explosives. There is no ‘dual role’, although narcotics dogs are sometimes also trained to detect cash. They do not perform any of the patrol dog functions.

‘Patrol dogs’ are trained in tracking, searching (for suspects or property) and apprehension. Patrol dogs may also be trained in search and rescue, victim recovery (cadaver) and narcotic detection.

‘Police dog’ and ‘dog bite’ will herein refer exclusively to ‘Patrol dogs’ in their role of suspect apprehension.

When a suspect cannot be apprehended by any other means, a Police dog may be used only in accordance with law and Police policy and procedure. Typical deployments are for apprehending a suspect armed with a weapon or actively resisting, and apprehending a suspect who is escaping/departing on foot from the scene of a crime.

Because Police dogs are trained to bite, there is a risk of causing serious bodily harm. Regardless any wound must be washed to prevent infection.

Wounds can include bruises, scratches, punctures and lacerations.

It is mandatory for every bite inflicted by a Police dog to be reported and recorded, and for the appropriateness of that Police dog deployment to be assessed.

Expression of dissatisfaction

A complainant may contact Police to express his or her dissatisfaction with a service or an officer’s performance which they wish to make Police aware of or have resolved in an informal manner rather than wanting formal notification to the IPCA.

These statistics only include complaints that have been notified to the IPCA, and do not include expressions of dissatisfaction.

An expression of dissatisfaction may be made here.

Firearms

Only employees who are constables (as defined by section 4 of the Policing Act 2008) and employees specifically authorised to do so by the Commissioner (e.g. firearms instructors) are permitted to possess or carry Police issued firearms.

There are strict policies and procedures around the issue and use of firearms.

It is mandatory for every discharge (firing) of a Police firearm, whether intentional or unintentional, to be reported and recorded, and for the circumstances of the discharge to be assessed.

Whenever someone is killed or injured by the discharge of a Police firearm, exactly the same crime scene investigation procedures are used as for a death or injury from the discharge of a non-Police firearm.

IAPro (Internal Affairs Professional)

Is an International Professional Standards Software package used by over 600 public safety agencies worldwide, including NYPD, Toronto Police Service, Western and South Australia Police Services.

Incidents

Incident is a generic term used in the Police Professional Conduct database (IAPro) to refer to a record in the database.

Incidents can be of several types:

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Incident investigation process

  1. After being notified of a complaint or significant incident the matter is categorised by the IPCA and rated according to the significance of the incident or the seriousness of the allegation. The categorisation of a complaint is a matter solely for the IPCA.
  2. The IPCA will, depending on the nature of the complaint or notification;
    • Conduct its own investigation independently of Police;
    • Actively oversee a Police investigation,
    • Review the Police investigation at its conclusion;
    • Refer the matter to Police for resolution by mutual agreement with the complainant; or
    • Decline further action and refer it back to Police.
  3. The majority of complaints are referred to Police to conduct an investigation of some degree although minor complaints referred back to the Police may just be brought to the employee’s attention.
  4. For matters that have oversight by the IPCA, Police are required to report the findings of their investigation back to the IPCA.
  5. Upon Police receiving a complaint the matter is assigned to a Police employee with the appropriate skills and independence to investigate what has occurred and report on their findings to both the complainant and the IPCA.
  6. The investigator is required to conduct a robust, transparent and timely investigation which is subject to ongoing review by Professional Conduct and by the IPCA.
  7. Police may carry out a ‘criminal investigation’ which considers the possibility of a breach of the criminal law. An ‘employment investigation’ may also be conducted to determine if a staff member has breached the Police Code of Conduct. An incident may also result in a ‘policy, practice and procedure review’.
  8. Action taken in respect of an allegation against an employee being upheld following an investigation, can range from criminal charges through to an expectation setting, re-training, performance management, a warning or dismissal.  In some cases the employee will voluntarily resign or retire during the course of the investigation.
  9. If it is found that there has been a systemic failure by NZ Police as an organisation, NZ Police will strive to improve their operational policies, practice and procedure.
  10. Following an investigation by Police or the IPCA, the involved complainant (if any) is advised of the findings.
  11. At the conclusion of an independent investigation, the Authority must form an opinion about the Police conduct, policy or procedure which was the subject of the complaint. The Authority may make recommendations to the Commissioner and where appropriate release public reports on investigations.
  12. If a complainant is unhappy with the result of the Police investigation it remains open to the complainant to contact the IPCA to express dissatisfaction with the outcome only if their complaint was not declined by the IPCA.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (the IPCA) is an oversight body entirely independent from the Police and headed by a High Court Judge (‘the Authority’). The Authority is governed by an act of parliament (The Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988).

The IPCA has statutory powers of investigation, protected disclosure and interview.

Any complaint or other matter notified to the Authority will be categorised by the Authority depending on the perceived seriousness of the incident and the expectations of any investigation.

This categorisation, investigation directive referred to Police and oversight of that investigation is entirely the prerogative of the IPCA, and the IPCA may in addition independently conduct their own investigation.

The IPCA may release their findings in a public report. They may also make recommendations to Police on aspects where they perceive improvements to Police policy, practice or operational procedures can be made.

Internally identified possible breaches of the Police Code of Conduct

The Police Code of Conduct guides the judgement, choices and actions of all Police employees. It sets out the high standards of conduct our communities rightly expect as well as what employees can expect of each other.

There is an expectation under the Code of Conduct that all employees will follow ‘Our Values’ of:

  • Professionalism
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Commitment to Māori and the Treaty
  • Empathy
  • Valuing Diversity

If an employee is alleged to have fallen below that expected standard, an ‘Employment Investigation’ will commence to consider the circumstances, determine if the Code of Conduct has been breached, and if so determine the appropriate action to be taken.

The Memorandum of Understanding

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) between Police and the IPCA (the Authority) outlines matters that are outside the remit of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988, but which have been agreed are of concern to the Authority. This includes criminal offending or serious misconduct by a Police employee, or where the matter is of such significance or public interest that it places or is likely to place the Police reputation at risk.

The Commissioner may notify such matters to the Authority.

OC Spray

OC stands for “oleoresin capsicum”, an extract of the capsicum family of plants that includes chillies and bell peppers (hence also being known as “pepper spray”).  The spray is a lachrymatory agent that irritates the eyes to cause tears, pain, and temporary blindness.

It is mandatory for Constabulary and Authorised Officer employees to carry OC Spray at all times while on active duty.

It is mandatory when OC Spray has been used to provide first aid aftercare, and to seek medical attention if there are any complications.

It is mandatory for every use of OC Spray to be reported and recorded, and for the appropriateness of that use to be assessed.

Police employees

There are two types of Police employee:

  • Constabulary (possessing constabulary powers as defined by section 4 of the Policing Act 2008, such as arrest or search and seizure, and who have sworn an oath to the Crown, sometimes referred to as 'Sworn')
  • Other Police employees ('civilians' who have no constabulary powers.)

The statistical tables also include employees who have not been positively identified, and Police as an organisation.

As further quarterly statistics are released, the figures may change through employees being identified in the course of the investigation as Constabulary or other Police employees, or because it transpires the incident has no individual culpability but rather a need for systemic improvements by Police.

Section 13 of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988

This section of the act stipulates that whenever Police, during the course of duty, cause or appear to have caused serious bodily harm or death to any person, notification to the IPCA is required.

Serious bodily harm

What constitutes ‘Serious Bodily Harm’ will depend on the circumstances of the incident and the nature and seriousness of the harm sustained by the person harmed.

The nature of the harm would include any fracture, deep laceration, injury to internal organ, impairment of a bodily function, blow to the head that causes severe concussion, or injury that results in admission to hospital.

By statute, incidents of serious bodily harm must be notified to the IPCA.

Exception:  Dog bites where the injury is not a deep laceration or puncture and the subject has been admitted to hospital only to allow the wound to be washed out and sutured before the subject is discharged. Dog bites are a mandatory reporting category of their own in any event.

Service Centres

Service Centres encompass Police Communication Centres, RNZPC, PNHQ and all other groups that are not part of a Police District.

Service Centre employees may be located at a District Headquarters, or at Police National Headquarters in Wellington.

Service Centres may provide a service internally to the organisation or externally to the public.

Significant Events

Significant events include, but are not restricted to:

  • A Police pursuit resulting in injury or death;
  • A suicide or attempted suicide in Police custody or immediately following an interaction with Police;
  • A use of force by Police (such as Taser, OC spray, baton or dog bite) resulting in serious bodily harm or death;
  • A use of a mechanical restraint resulting in serious bodily harm or death;
  • A discharge of a firearm by Police whether intentional or unintentional, or resulting in no injury, injury or death;
  • A serious bodily harm or death caused by Police by any other means;
  • An action by a Police employee that may bring Police into disrepute or undermine trust and confidence in Police.

When such events occur, it is standard practice for Police to conduct a review of the circumstances and actions, to determine that best practice and procedure was followed according to policy, and if there are any lessons to be learnt or further actions to be taken.

When such events occur, it is mandatory to notify the IPCA.

Taser

An electroshock weapon firing barbs attached by wires to batteries, causing temporary paralysis and manufactured by Taser Inc.

It is mandatory for every use of the Taser to be reported and recorded, and for the appropriateness of that use to be assessed.

Tasers are only carried by properly certified Constabulary and Authorised Officer employees when this has been approved.

Full list of allegations

[1] Use of force on duty

Constabulary employees and Authorised Officers have the power to use reasonable force to overcome someone escaping or resisting Police or when there is a justifiable belief their actions will harm any person, including themselves.

Police have a number of options, and selection of which to use is a judgement of the scale of threat or imminent danger to the employee or another person, and the possibilities of other people being at risk of injury by the course of action chosen.

These allegations are used when an employee has potentially exceeded their power or use of reasonable force.

  • Use of force on duty (Firearm)
  • Use of force on duty (Baton)
  • Use of force on duty (Taser)
  • Use of force on duty (OC Spray)
  • Use of force on duty (Dog bite)
  • Use of force on duty (Restraints)
  • Use of force on duty (Other object)
  • Use of force on duty (Manual)

[2] Arrest/Custodial

Constabulary employees have the power to arrest and detain in custody.  Use of these powers must be used in accordance with legislation and considering a person’s rights under the law.

Being arrested and placed in custody can be a stressful experience, and peoples’ behaviour can become volatile and unpredictable.  Alcohol or drugs can increase these risks.

Procedures have been developed to minimise the risks to everyone concerned, but sometimes errors of judgement can be made in such a stressful or hectic environment.  People in custody also sometimes misunderstand what is happening and why.  For example, their property and certain clothing items will be removed to prevent their use in harming themselves or others.  Escape attempts are also dangerous and people in custody may even self-harm or attempt suicide.

It is of paramount importance to control people and the situation in these circumstances, which may include a use of force to subdue someone whose behaviour makes them a greater risk to everyone, including themselves.

These allegations are used when there has potentially been a lapse in the correct procedures.

  • Unlawful Arrest
  • Breach of Rights
  • Improper search whilst in custody
  • Property (Custodial)
  • Exhibits (Custodial)
  • Escapes custody
  • Suicide (Custodial)
  • Attempted suicide (Custodial)
  • Cause injury (Custodial)
  • Cause death (Custodial)
  • Arrest/Custodial (Other)

[3] Searches

Constabulary employees have the power to search a person in custody or (under the Search and Surveillance Act) a property or residence for evidence of a criminal offence, or possession of an offensive weapon or illegal substances, and seize such items.

The search, seizure, retention and return (or possible destruction) must be conducted in accordance with the law and Police policy and procedure.

 

These allegations are used when there has potentially been a lapse in the correct procedures.

  • Unlawful search
  • Damage during search
  • Property (Searches)
  • Exhibits (Searches)
  • Searches (Other)

[4] Significant Events

Significant events include, but are not restricted to:

  • A Police pursuit resulting in injury or death;
  • A Suicide or attempted suicide (non-custodial) immediately following an interaction with Police;
  • A use of force by Police resulting in serious bodily harm or death;
  • A use of a mechanical restraint resulting in serious bodily harm or death;
  • A discharge of a firearm by Police whether intentional or unintentional, or resulting in no injury, injury or death;
  • A serious bodily harm or death that appears to have been caused by Police by any other means;
  • An action by a Police employee that may bring Police into disrepute or undermine trust and confidence in Police.

[5] Traffic Offences

Relating to the alleged illegal or inappropriate driving of a Police vehicle on duty.

 

This includes an alleged inappropriate pursuit.  Even if a pursuit does not result in injury or death (see Significant Events), there is strict policy and procedure around initiating, continuing or abandoning a pursuit.

  • EBA - TON (on duty)
  • Use of vehicle
  • Excessive speed
  • Negligent/dangerous driving
  • Inappropriate pursuit
  • EBA - ION (on duty)
  • Traffic Offences (Other)

[6] Service Failure

The Service Failure allegations will actually be part of the type ‘Breach of Official Conduct.

However for our statistical reporting, in order to highlight these particular types of conduct that are currently being targeted for remedial action, the allegations have been moved into this (new) type category.

The levels of performance for highlighting are to do with a perceived failure to provide an adequate service to the public in criminal investigations, victim focus and court proceedings.

  • Inadequate service
  • Failure - Investigation
  • Failure - Prosecution
  • Failure to attend
  • Failure to notify/inform
  • Inadequate victim management
  • Inadequate bail management
  • Failure to return property
  • Service failure - Other

[7] Unprofessional Behaviour

The Unprofessional Behaviour allegations will actually be part of the types ‘Breach of Official Conduct’, ‘Workplace Behaviour’ or ‘Off-Duty Behaviour’.

However for our statistical reporting, in order to highlight these particular types of perceived conduct that are currently being targeted for remedial action, the allegations have been moved into this (new) type category.

The behaviours for highlighting are alleged inappropriate and unprofessional language or attitude, and any alleged form of harassment, bullying or discrimination, in any environment.

  • Attitude/language (External)
  • Attitude/language (Internal)
  • Attitude/language (Off duty)
  • Harassment/Bullying/Discrimination (External)
  • Harassment/Bullying/Discrimination (Internal)

[8] Breach of Official Conduct

There is an expectation under the Code of Conduct that all employees will follow ‘Our Values’ of:

  • Professionalism
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Commitment to Māori and the Treaty
  • Empathy
  • Valuing Diversity

This is true for behaviour when dealing with the public in an official capacity. In addition there are standards of procedure and practice in accordance with policy and the law that are expected to be met in all dealings with the public.

These allegations are intended for use when potentially this expectation has not been met.

  • Dishonesty
  • Unlawful act
  • Treatment of CYP
  • Falsification of document
  • Perjury
  • Corruption
  • Conflict of interest
  • Failure - Other
  • Breach of privacy/confidentiality
  • Inappropriate/unlawful disclosure
  • Cause damage to property
  • Breach of policy (External)
  • Negligence or carelessness (External)
  • Performance/attendance matter (External)
  • Sexual misconduct (External)
  • Disgraceful behaviour (External)
  • Breach of Official Conduct (Other)

[9] Workplace Behaviour

There is an expectation under the Code of Conduct that all employees will follow ‘Our Values’ of:

  • Professionalism
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Commitment to Māori and the Treaty
  • Empathy
  • Valuing Diversity

This is true for behaviour in the workplace as well as when dealing with the public.

These allegations are intended for use when this expectation is potentially not met.

  • Disgraceful behaviour (Internal)
  • Sexual misconduct (Internal)
  • Drugs/alcohol
  • Violence
  • Performance/attendance matter (Internal)
  • Negligence or carelessness (Internal)
  • Failure to follow lawful instruction
  • Breach of policy (Internal)
  • Workplace Behaviour (Other)

[10] Use of Police Resources

Police employees have access to a number of electronic devices, vehicles, clothing, equipment and weaponry to assist them in the execution of their duties.

Use of these items is governed by strict policy and most especially that they should only be used for work related purposes and only when appropriate.

These allegations are intended to be used for the potential misuse of these resources.

  • Misuse of email or internet
  • Unauthorised use of database
  • Misuse of vehicle
  • Misuse of property
  • Damage to property
  • Use of Police Resources (Other)

[11] Off Duty Behaviour

There is an expectation under the Code of Conduct that all employees will follow ‘Our Values’ of:

  • Professionalism
  • Respect
  • Integrity
  • Commitment to Māori and the Treaty
  • Empathy
  • Valuing Diversity

This is true for behaviour while off duty as well as in an official capacity.

These allegations are intended for use when potentially this expectation has potentially not been met.

  • Disgraceful behaviour (Off duty)
  • Sexual misconduct (Off duty)
  • Drugs/alcohol (Off duty)
  • Violence (Off duty)
  • EBA - TON (Off duty)
  • EBA - ION (Off duty)
  • TON Issued (non EBA) (Off duty)
  • ION Issued (non EBA) (Off duty)
  • Off Duty Behaviour (Other)