Police Commissioner Peter Marshall has welcomed the Police Minister's calls for the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) to review the "Roastbusters" investigation, and says Waitemata District staff remain absolutely committed to pursuing the matter on behalf of the victims.
"I have assured the Police Minister today that the best efforts have been made by the investigation team looking into this group's activities, and that complaints about sexual assault are investigated thoroughly and professionally by police," Mr Marshall said.
"I also welcome the Minister's calls for the Independent Police Conduct Authority to look at the actions taken by our staff to investigate the activities of this group, which is entirely appropriate given the level of public interest in this particular case."
Mr Marshall says Waitemata District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle will also be reviewing aspects of how the investigation was handled.
"Superintendent Searle and myself have also apologised to the first victim who came forward in this matter in 2011, who did not initially have her formal complaint publicly acknowledged by police this week. However, I am now satisfied that her complaint was very thoroughly investigated, but this case did not meet the evidential threshold required for prosecution.
"These cases can be amongst the most challenging and complex for police to deal with. The public rightly expects us to take firm and appropriate action when we become aware of the sort of activity which this group has engaged in, which we also find abhorrent and disturbing. However, we must have the necessary evidence to put these matters before the court.
"Prosecuting these matters before the court requires a very high threshold, and we only get one opportunity to get it right. This means it absolutely critical for victims that we have the strongest case possible, backed by the appropriate evidence before we can proceed."
Mr Marshall said Police had come a long way in its treatment and support for complainants and victims of sexual offending, but accepted there was still room to improve. "What is particularly encouraging is that as indicated by the recent crime statistics, more people are feeling confident in being able to come forward and report matters of sexual offending. Police has also stepped up its treatment and support of victims for sexual offending, with trained specialist investigators available and strong partnerships in place with other support agencies across the sector.
"With victims at the centre of everything we do, it is vital that the public has confidence in our decisions regarding prosecution, and we will continue to robustly and thoroughly pursue this matter with the aim of bringing it to a conclusion. In the meantime, we welcome any IPCA investigation that may take place, and will act on any learnings it may identify."