Wednesday, 11 July 2007 - 5:22pm |
National News

Minor offences not necessarily barrier

2 min read

The small number of Police recruits with convictions are thoroughly vetted and scrutinised to ensure they are suitable candidates for a career in Police.

National Human Resources Manager for Police, Wayne Annan says there is no evidence to suggest that standards have dropped despite an increase over the past five years in the numbers of recruits with previous convictions.

"There are many more recruits going through the College now than five years ago. So an increase is to be expected.

"We have around 30,000 calls each year from people who are interested in policing as a career. A very thorough selection process is undertaken to ensure that the 600 or so police officers we put out there are the best people New Zealand can offer.

The police policy on applicants with convictions has not changed for many years.

Decisions are made on a case by case basis and take into account a number of factors including the age of the person when offence took place, the seriousness of the offence and the amount of time passed since the offence.

"Where possible our recruiting officers contact the investigating officer at the time of the offence."

"In many cases we find the convictions are for minor offences which were committed at a young age and the person concerned has since led an exemplary life.

"In a few cases, people plead guilty to a charge, in order get the ordeal over and done with, and in actual fact may not have been convicted had they defended the charge."

Mr Annan said that recruits with convictions was a perennial issue, but by far the bulk of those recruited with offences in recent years have been addressed by the youth court, or have been diverted. The average age when the offence is committed is 20 years and there is an average of 12 years between the offence and being recruited. When more serious concerns arise, the decision making is escalated to Police National Headquarters.

"New Zealand Police are firm believers in justice and the fact that people can learn from mistakes made as a youth. There are, from time to time, people who warrant a second chance."