24 Oct 2019

Independent Police Conduct Authority to do its own probe into bullying claims

12:34 pm on 24 October 2019

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is launching an investigation into allegations of bullying and related issues within the police.

Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The police announced on Tuesday that independent consultant Debbie Francis would review the systems and processes in regards to bullying complaints.

It was sparked by an RNZ investigation in which more than 100 current or former police employees said bullying is rife within the service.

The IPCA general manager Warren Young said its investigation will have a wide scope and will look into the police culture.

"We've received a number of allegations of bullying by way of specific complaints," he said.

"That's given rise to some concerns about more general matters, so we'll be looking at the specific complaints and also broader organisational and practice issues that might foster bullying or allow it to occur."

Mr Young said the review commissioned by police was looking at the complaints systems, but the IPCA would be looking at what causes or allows bullying to happen in the first place.

He said anyone who contacted the IPCA would do so in complete confidence in the first instance, and that anonymity was guaranteed in most cases.

But if someone made specific allegations, he said they would need to investigate each allegation fully.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said through a statement he welcomed the investigation.

"I am proud of the extensive progress we have made in recent years to improve our values and our way of working with the public and with each other," Mr Bush said.

"That said, I know we can always be better, and we look forward to working with the IPCA as they carry out this investigation.

"It is my expectation that we show our people the same compassion and empathy that we show the NZ public and that all of our staff are safe and that they feel a sense of belonging."

He said the review announced on Tuesday would help police understand what was working well, and identify what needed improvement, regarding the complaints processes.

"I hope both this review and the IPCA investigation, alongside work already underway within police, will allow us to be as united, as committed to excellence and as accountable and supportive of one another as possible - and to address any behaviour which undermines that goal."

The IPCA has created a specific email address for the investigation. Mr Young asked anyone who has experienced bullying in the police to email bullying@ipca.govt.nz.

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