This letter is provided as complaint regarding the actions of the NZ Police and endorsement by Police management of illegal roadblocks that have been established in various areas across New Zealand and widely reported in the New Zealand media. It is urgently requested that immediate action is taken to ensure that all illegal roadblocks are terminated and that the requirements of the Alert 4 COVID-19 conditions of remaining at home are consistently and urgently enforced.
3 April 2020
PO Box 3017
To Whom it May Concern,
Reference: POLICE COMPLAINT – ILLEGAL ROADBLOCKS
This letter is provided as complaint regarding the actions of the NZ Police and endorsement by Police management of illegal roadblocks that have been established in various areas across New Zealand and widely reported in the New Zealand media. [Reference 1 and Reference 2].
It is urgently requested that immediate action is taken to ensure that all illegal roadblocks are terminated and that the requirements of the Alert 4 COVID-19 conditions of remaining at home are consistently and urgently enforced.
The New Zealand Police, under the powers applied in a state of national emergency, have the powers to stop any activity that contributes to the emergency and have failed to consistently apply these powers.
Having unauthorised vigilante groups allowed to operate is contradictory to the maintenance of law and order.
There have been media reports of individuals being fearful and intimidated by the roadblocks in place and there is nothing in law or under the Covid19 alert conditions that provides individual citizens with the authority to contravene NZ law.
Public statements by Police management and endorsement for these illegal roadblocks demonstrates a significant failure in the Police to treat all New Zealanders consistently and fairly before the law.
The Police action has gone further than failing to take action but have in the news reports today taken the unprecedented action of providing overt encouragement and endorsement of this illegal conduct and as highlighted in the media report of 3 April 2020 [Reference 3] Deputy Police Commissioner Wally Haumaha has confirmed that the Police are providing advice on how to conduct the illegal roadblocks.
The individuals conducting the roadblocks are:
- Failing to remain at home as required by the Covid 19 Alert 4 conditions
- Committing offences against New Zealand Law at the very least Obstructing a Public Way under the Summary Offences Act, contravening the conditions of the state of national emergency, and in from some reports potentially committing offences of intimidation and threatening
- Placing members of the public at risk through unnecessary contact with individuals outside their “bubble”
The Police Commissioner has repeatedly referred to the Police being focused on ensuring the public “do the right thing” while openly endorsing this illegal, intimidating and unnecessary conduct.
Should roadblocks and checkpoints need to be established for the protection of any group or groups of citizens it is only the Police who have this authority to do this. Providing endorsement of ANY citizen to take individual actions in contravention of New Zealand law at this time of national emergency must be immediately stopped.
The New Zealand Police Commissioner has stated, as of yesterday, [Reference 4] that Police were only using the extraordinary powers “when people are persistently and seriously breaching [that] compliance”. The establishment and maintenance of illegal roadblocks must be seen as persistent and serious breaches and should be dealt with as such.
Given that the Police themselves are, according to the Commissioner, requiring advice from Crown Law it would be impossible for individual groups of citizens to fully appreciate the intricacies of these laws.
It is an affront to New Zealanders that special rights are being afforded to certain groups of citizens and will serve only to create a lack of faith in the ability of the Police to uphold the law without fear or favour.
This complaint has also been reported directly to the IPCA seeking an urgent response to restore public faith and ensure that illegal conduct is immediately halted and that no further actions by individual groups to act as independent enforcement agents is supported.
It is a reasonable expectation by the public, if high levels of risk or exposure are identified, that resources are provided and managed by the agencies authorised to do so and that no member of the public is allowed or expected to operate outside of the law.
At this critical time of concern and vulnerability all New Zealanders must have total faith in the consistent enforcement of law.
It is expected that this complaint will be considered a priority given the timelines and high levels of sensitivity that currently exist in New Zealand.
As representative of a lobby group that advocates for the equal treatment of all New Zealanders before the law we are aware of a number of New Zealanders who have serious concerns about the conduct of Police management in this area and it is reasonable to expect that all Police officers are provided the support to uphold their oath of office:
“I, [name], swear that I will faithfully and diligently serve Her (or His) Majesty [specify the name of the reigning Sovereign], Queen (or King) of New Zealand, her (or his) heirs and successors, without favour or affection, malice or ill-will. While a constable I will, to the best of my power, keep the peace and prevent offences against the peace, and will, to the best of my skill and knowledge, perform all the duties of the office of constable according to law. So help me God.