22 Apr 2014

Police mistake payouts double in year

6:11 pm on 22 April 2014

The amount of compensation paid out by police for mistakes, including unlawful arrests, has more than doubled in the past year.

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Photo: PHOTO NZ

Since July 2013, police have paid $423,034 in compensation and legal costs for victims or their families, up from $184,668 in 2012/13.

That includes two payments of $14,000 - one involving a theft case in Otago and another in Canterbury involving firearms, according to figures released under the Official Information Act.

In the past five years, police have paid out more than $1.5 million in ex-gratia and legal claims. Police declined to comment on the figures on Tuesday.

The Police Association said on Tuesday the amount paid out by police is relatively low when compared internationally.

President Greg O'Connor said this year's figure is skewed by a $225,000 payment to the family of Halatau Naitoko, who was mistakenly shot dead during a chase on an Auckland motorway in 2009.

Mr O'Connor said given the number of arrests each year, it is inevitable that police will get it wrong on occasion.

"Those cases that the association gets involved in as being often decisions made in the heat of the moment - particularly in a volatile policing situation - which, on reflection, the law may not have backed up the actions of the officer. And that's generally where it comes about."

Payout figures

Financial year / Ex-Gratia and Legal Claims:

  • 2013/14: $423,034 (to March 2014)
  • 2012/13: $184,668
  • 2011/12: $352,182
  • 2010/11: $299,286
  • 2009/10: $291,568

False arrests or detention payments this year:

  • $14,000 - Otago, theft
  • $14,202 - Canterbury, Arms Act
  • $10,000 - Auckland, no charge
  • $4000 - Counties Manukau, Bail Act