20 Mar 2015

Petition calls for 'Roastbusters' case to be re-opened

1:33 pm on 20 March 2015

An online petition is calling for the Police to re-open their investigation into the teenage sex ring known as the Roastbusters.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush

Police Commissioner Mike Bush Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

The police were strongly criticised in an Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report which slammed their handling of the case, saying the victims were let down by a number of police failures - including looking at all the possible prosecution options.

ActionStation.org.nz campaign manager Nicole Skews said the report provided plenty of ground for police to re-open the investigation.

Ms Skews said more than 1700 people had signed the petition since it went live yesterday afternoon; it will be presented to the Police Commissioner in three weeks.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Mike Bush has sought to distance the officers involved in the investigation of the case from the rest of the force.

Writing in his blog, Mr Bush said he accepted the findings of the IPCA's damning report into the officers' handling of the case.

He said he was disappointed police let down the young victims at the centre of the allegations.

Mr Bush said he could assure the public that the failings of a few staff at a point in time did not represent national practice.

He also said he wanted to reassure victims that they could bring complaints to police which would be investigated properly and fairly.

The release of IPCA's report has provoked strong reactions across New Zealand.

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Auckland lawyer Catriona Maclennan questioned whether the police understood their actions.

"I'm just worried whether the police understand the law.

"They seem to almost think that a complaint and evidence from a victim are required for a prosecution. But that's obviously not the case, or no one would ever be prosecuted for homicide. I think they need to evaluate more carefully where evidence for prosecution could come from."

ActionStation.org.nz national director Marianne Elliot also questioned the decision not to lay charges.

"This argument that has been used, that [the police] didn't have enough evidence... I think the authority has made a very strong finding that they didn't have enough evidence because they failed to investigate."

Rape Prevention Education director Dr Kim McGregor said she had spoken to top police officers about the issue, like former and current Police Commissioners Peter Marshall and Mike Bush.

"They know that they have pockets in areas where maybe there's an old-school attitude... Some of the heads within certain districts have misogynistic views towards women."

Auckland mother Jessie Hume has been a vocal opponent to the so-called Roastbusters.

She said it was good the police are being held to account.

"People need to be able to feel like they can go to the police and something is going to happen. It's really really sad. It's horrible to read a report like this because this what you know is actually happening.

"But on the other hand, it's really really good to see a report having an honest outcome and truthful appraisal of the situation as it is."

The IPCA said there was no evidence of widespread poor practice by police when it came to cases like the Roastbusters.

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