7 Jul 2009

Private prosecutions to be reviewed

6:44 pm on 7 July 2009

The Police Association is welcoming news of a review of the private prosecution process, though an Auckland barrister says the review is unneccesary.

The process will be examined as part of the Government's move to cut court costs and trial backlogs under new criminal procedure legislation.

Police Association President Greg O'Connor says private prosecutions are being used as a tool by vexatious litigants and a threshold test of evidence is needed.

Mr O'Connor says there has been an increasing number of private prosecutions taken against police officers since the unsuccessfule case was taken by Steven Wallace's family against Senior Constable Keith Abbott.

Auckland barrister Stuart Grieve QC says there are so few private prosecutions, he is not sure they need examining.

Given the low number, Mr Grieve does not think private prosecutions contribute to court delays.

Graham McCready who took a private prosecution against Labour MP Trevor Mallard, says the system works well and is not used a great deal.

He says judges will sort out whether a prosecution is being taken for the right reason.

Mr McCready took the private prosecution in 2007 after police declined to lay charges against Mr Mallard for his part in a fight with the National MP Tau Henare. The prosecution was successful.