Attribute to Deputy Commissioner National Operations, Mike Clement:
Police has been absolutely committed to ensuring transparency with the families of the Pike River miners and we reject any suggestion that information has been deliberately withheld by police.
The video footage taken by a Western Australian robot and in the media today was taken on or about the 15 March 2011. This robot was sent into the drift on behalf of the Pike River Coal receivers, 6 days after Police handed control of the mine to the receivers on 9 March 2011.
This was the fourth robot to enter the mine and the second from Western Australia. The use of this, and all the other robots sent into the mine are in the public domain and have been well documented.
We have checked our records which show that Pike River Coal Ltd representatives informed families on 9 March 2011 that this robot would be entering the drift. At a subsequent meeting on 16 March 2011 PRC representatives explained that the video footage from this operation were ‘very similar’ to earlier footage that families had already viewed. PRC added that the operation had allowed useful information about gas and temperatures readings to be obtained.
Video footage from this robot operation on 15 March was handed to Police and excerpts were shown to the families at two family meetings on 23 and 24 July 2011 in Greymouth and Christchurch. About thirty family and supporters were at each meeting.
Police and other parties have shown a large amount of video footage to the families since 2011. This includes robot footage and footage from several boreholes over the years showing points of interest.
We have been open about this footage and have not sought to withhold anything which we believe would be relevant and of interest into the families. It should be noted however that the overwhelming volume of this footage involves many hours of featureless tunnels, boreholes or indistinct imagery.
We have recently received an official information act request from the families for all video footage and other artefacts including photographs relating to the mine. We are working to expedite the release of this footage and other material as soon as we can, however there are more than thirty hours of footage and photos from various sources in different data formats that needs to be collated.
Police would like to clarify that the comment given to Newshub and subsequent media in relation to the story was based on a misunderstanding that the aired footage originated from the WA robot on 25 November 2010, not the one sent in on March 15 2011.
Robot deployment timeline:
Army robot deployed – 23 November 2010
Second army robot deployed – 24 November 2010
Western Australian robot deployed – 25 November 2010*
Police transfer Pike River scene to mine receivers – 9 March 2011
Second Western Australian robot deployed (by the mine receivers) – on or about 15 March 2011*
Police are also aware of reports of a fifth robot deployed by receivers around 25 March 2011
*Families shown excerpts of footage from the third and fourth robots on 23 and 24 July 2011 in Greymouth and Christchurch
Issued by Police Media Centre