The first of three police cars from Levin was dispatched to Otaki in the early hours of Saturday 30 October within one minute of a 111 call being received, the District Commander for Central District, Superintendent Mark Lammas, said today.
Superintendent Lammas said there had been no service failure in the case in question. He put concerns of the Murray family down to possible misunderstandings between members of the family and advice around timings and where to lay a formal assault complaint.
Superintendent Lammas said that at 1.41 am on Saturday the 30th of October a call was made from the Railway Hotel indicating that there had been a fight.
The Central Communications Centre despatched three vehicles to attend from Levin.
In the meantime the caller had advised that the fight had ceased. Police attended and reported the situation as calm. No complaints were laid with Police at that time.
At 4.47 a.m. a second incident was reported from Otaki to Central Communications. A woman reported that 30 minutes earlier a relative had been assaulted at the BP Service Station and wanted to make a complaint. The alleged offender was known by name to the caller and had been involved in the previous incident at the hotel. This victim however was not one of the men assaulted at the hotel.
At 4.56 a.m. a patrol car from Levin Police was despatched to attend the latest incident at Otaki. However, discussion between the Communications Centre and the informant indicated that no ambulance was required for injuries and that the complaint would be made at the Otaki Police Station on Sunday 31 October, when there was to be an on duty police member. On assessing that the situation in Otaki was calm the Levin patrol was not required to attend the BP station.
At 2.15 p.m. on the Saturday the mother of one of the persons allegedly assaulted earlier that day made a telephone call to Central Communications from a telephone outside the Otaki Police Station. In that call she said she wanted to make a report about the early morning incidents.
She was advised to report the matter to the Otaki Police Station the following day in keeping with the arrangement previously made with another family member. For some reason, yet to be ascertained, the woman believed that Police would be attending her address to take a complaint.
Later that afternoon the mother went to an off duty constable's house and spoke to his partner about her wish to lay a complaint. On his return from Wellington later that day the off duty constable went to Mrs Murray's house to take a complaint.
There are several phone conversations between members of the family and the Communication Centre; the last call being at 5.35 p.m. on the Saturday when it was confirmed a male member of the family had gone to the Levin Police Station to lay a complaint.
"All in all this is a case of many members of one family trying to do the best thing in their view concerning laying formal complaints over assault matters that did not directly involve them but did involve adult male family members."
"From a policing point of view, on the other hand, the emergency response was attended to immediately, police assured themselves the situation was calm and appropriate advice was given about formal reporting of the incidents.
"Most importantly, this was not a break down of the 111 service. In fact quite the opposite. A call was made and responded to immediately," said Superintendent Lammas.
Inspector Scott, officer in charge of Palmerston North Rural policing area that includes Otaki is meeting tomorrow afternoon with members of the family who made the calls for service.
Supt Lammas via
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