Waitemata Police District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle is offering a public apology to the young women at the centre of the investigation into alleged offending by the Roastbusters group for the shortcomings outlined in today’s Independent Police Conduct Authority report.
The IPCA has determined the shortcomings were the result of poor individual practices and supervision amongst the Waitemata staff investigating the Roastbusters allegations.
“I’d like to publicly apologise to the young women and their families for the trauma that has been caused to them. I will arrange to do this in person, depending on their wishes,” Mr Searle says.
“I accept the IPCA's findings that some of my staff did not meet the required investigation standard and did not connect the various cases or work with other agencies to develop preventive strategies. They also missed opportunities to communicate with the parents of the young men.
“We clearly let the victims down. This is regrettable and I reassure the public that we’re absolutely committed to making sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Mr Searle says the IPCA has accepted the incidents involving the Roastbusters group presented Police with a complex set of challenges and investigators were highly motivated to do the right thing by the young women concerned, as this comment indicates:
"All of the Police officers involved in these matters treated the young women and their families with courtesy and compassion, and ensured that they were afforded both dignity and privacy. Officers were clearly victim-focussed and motivated to act in accordance with the victims' wishes and in their best interests."
The case has resulted in a number of changes already being made within the Waitemata Police district.
Since December 2013, a Detective Inspector has been put in place to oversee and manage the child protection and adult sexual abuse cases within Waitemata. This senior position supports the Detective Senior Sergeant working within the Waitemata Child Protection and Adult Sexual Assault Unit, based on the North Shore.
A weekly audit process has also been established. The Detective Inspector reviews all of the cases the Child Protection Team is working on, to ensure that the investigations are being carried out with best-case practice. This is in addition to the existing audit process Police have in practice nationally.
During the district audit process, the Detective Inspector ensures that appropriate communication is maintained with Child Youth and Family, and with other Police districts.
Two additional officers have also been appointed, one to each of the Child Protection and Adult Sexual Assault teams, with their primary focus on prevention.
Mr Searle says the findings from the IPCA will form part of an employment process for individual police officers responsible for the shortcomings identified in the report. These will remain confidential due to employment obligations. However, none of the three officers criticised in the report are currently working on Child Protection or Adult Sexual Assault teams.
In a message to potential victims of the Roastbusters activities, Mr Searle says there is no time limit for reporting sexual offending and he is encouraging anyone with information to come forward.
“If any further disclosures are made, they will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and investigated appropriately,” Mr Searle says.
Beth Bates, Waitemata District Communications Manager
Media please note:
Police released the findings of Operation Clover in October 2014, outlining why charges were not laid in relation to eight incidents involving seven victims and five suspects.
In May 2014, the IPCA found there was no deliberate decision to mislead by any police employee regarding information provided to the public about Roastbusters. The Police response can be found here.