The Dim-Post

July 14, 2014

The Western District Way

Filed under: crime,Politics — danylmc @ 2:47 pm

Via the Herald:

Former Police Minister and Papakura MP Judith Collins was told there might be a problem with how police handled statistics around the same time as police were wrongly recording incidents to make hundreds of burglaries disappear – but she didn’t investigate further.

Ms Collins, who is acting Police Minister while Anne Tolley is overseas, launched an attack on Labour police spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern, calling the leaking of a report into police mistakes “politically motivated”.

A police internal investigation revealed that from 2009 to 2012, five officers in Counties Manukau had re-coded about 700 burglaries as incidents, which are not counted in crime statistics, raising questions about political pressure to keep crime figures down.

The investigation – revealed by the Herald on Sunday yesterday – found that offences should have been recorded as burglaries for 70 per cent of those incidents. Police are calling it an isolated incident, which has now led to spot audits throughout the country to ensure the integrity of statistics.

One of the reasons I think The Wire is the ‘best TV show of all time’, over say, Breaking Bad or The Sopranos, is that The Wire explained to us how our own world works. Because we’ve seen Season 3 we all know that Judith Collins would never have told the police to falsify their statistics.’ Instead she would have said, ‘The budget is tough, you’re going to have to do more with less, and your staff will be promoted based on their performance at reducing crime as measured in the statistics.’ And the district commanders are left to consider that they’re (a) supposed to get crime down, (b) they don’t have any resources to do so, but (c) they get to collect and record the metrics on which their own promotions will depend. The result is a police force in which police inclined to falsify their statistics are promoted ahead of those that deliver high quality police work.

None of which is the Minister’s fault. She never told them to make 700 burglaries disappear, although she was more than happy to issue a press release and claim all the credit when those disappearing burglaries showed up in the crime stats.

November 7, 2013

Quote of the day, or rather: quotes from other days much like today

Filed under: crime,Politics — danylmc @ 10:05 am

From a 2007 NZPA(!) story about Dame Bazely’s inquiry into police misconduct:

Police have “unreservedly and unequivocally” apologised to the victims of the actions of the “few officers” whose actions were highlighted in Dame Margaret Bazley’s report into police conduct.

Dame Margaret’s report, released today, slammed “disgraceful conduct” by serving officers, finding 141 incidents in which there was enough evidence for police to be disciplined or face charges.

She said she had reviewed 313 complaints of sexual assault against 222 police officers between 1979 and 2005 and said there were times when police protected their own.

Dame Margaret said she saw evidence of some “disgraceful” conduct by police officers and associates, involving the exploitation of vulnerable people and there were also incidents of officers attempting to protect alleged perpetrators.

Police Commissioner Howard Broad said police were already acting on the findings of the report.

“We have learned from this process. We will own and fix any problems and focus on the future of police and policing in New Zealand,” Mr Broad said.

But by 2011:

Senior police management are not performing, inept staff are being promoted and efforts to change the culture have stalled, a damning report into the Police says.

The State Services Commission report, the third since the Commission of Inquiry led by Dame Margaret Bazley reported back in April 2007, said urgent, co-ordinated and decisive action was needed now to improve the police culture.

Broad was critical of this report, and he and Police Union boss Greg O’Connor basically rejected it and called for further reports not be made public because it damaged police morale.

And, if you weren’t already angry enough there were attempts to reform the laws around rape trials to try and improve the low complaint and conviction rate for this crime. Back in 2009:

Rape victims will be given sweeping new protections during trials, with planned rules requiring judges to agree before a complainant’s sexual history can be raised in court.

Defendants accused of rape could also face a new test of consent meaning a woman would effectively have to have said ‘yes’ to sexual activity rather than simply not saying ‘no’.

Courts would be required to consider what steps an accused person took to establish consent under rules designed to make rape cases less harrowing for victims.

It is understood the measures will be outlined by Justice Minister Simon Power today. He is also tipped to outline plans to prevent the wrongful removal from New Zealand of children in custody cases, among measures aimed at reforming child protection and Family Court laws.

Mr Power has already asked the Law Commission to investigate giving judges a fact-finding role in sexual violence and child abuse cases through the introduction of elements of the European “inquisitorial” style of hearings.

If adopted, that would mean judges would collect and determine the facts of sensitive cases rather than them being aired before a jury – a process many victims say is more traumatising than the sexual attack.

It is understood Mr Power wants to go further by restricting the ability of defence lawyers to discredit rape complainants by trawling through their sexual histories.

But:

A proposal to get rid of jurors for sensitive court cases involving children or victims of sexual assault has been shelved by Justice Minister Judith Collins.

The minister said she had no interest in progressing her predecessor Simon Power’s plan to introduce an inquisitorial system in New Zealand.

Update: Also, I used to write satire!

November 6, 2013

Baby it’s creepy outside

Filed under: crime,Politics — danylmc @ 12:30 pm

There’s a lot of interesting stuff going on in and around this instantly-infamous Radio Live clip in which John Tamihere and Willy Jackson interview a young female friend of an alleged gang-rape victim and calmly, clearly (repeatedly) explain to the girl that blame for these rapes lies with the victims, who deserved to be raped (although JT and Jackson use the term ‘mischief’ rather than ‘sexual assault on a minor’) as punishment for drinking alcohol, going to parties and misleading to their parents. They then go on to question the girl about her own sexual behavior, with what you might describe as heightened interest.

The first point here is that Jackson and Tamihere’s argument is identical to that of actual gang-rapists when interviewed in the academic literature. These groups generally feel that their victims have bought the attack on themselves so they’re actually delivering a form of justice. So hey, there’s that. The legitimisation of rape against minors is a weird message for Radio Live to be promoting, but whatever sells advertising, I guess.

Secondly, John Tamihere is CEO of the Waipareira Trust, and one of the other trustees is Clint Rickards, who resigned from the police after being charged in two high profile gang-rape cases. That might not mean anything, but the Trust works with local youth and is operating in the same area as the Roastbusters gang. So when people ask where these young kids are getting their ideas from they might look at the pillars of the local community, instead of, say Youtube or their iPhones or whatever.

Finally, there’s a huge amount of affection for Tamihere amongst the Trotterist factions of the Labour Party. People like Mike Williams and Josie Pagani feel JT’s well-documented pathological contempt for woman would be an electoral asset among blue-collar male voters, and David Shearer gushed that he’d be an amazing Minister for Social Development. The core tenet of Trotterism is that identity politics isn’t important, and if that faction in the party had its way they’d have a welfare spokesman who thinks that young girls who drink alcohol deserve to be gang-raped. So let me say again that Tamihere would be a poor choice for that role, and that, like Shane Jones he is basically un-electable, and that people in the Labour Party should stop promoting these weird, creepy misogynists. 

(Update: just responding to Bryce in the comments: I doubt the people in the last paragraph agree with Tamihere on this point; instead I think there’s a cynical calculation that ‘dumb male voters’ like him, so they’ll vote for his party.

November 5, 2013

For justice we must go to Don Corleone

Filed under: crime — danylmc @ 6:23 am

TV3 dropped another bombshell last night: one of the alleged gang-rapists in the Roastbusters group that police insist they’re powerless to prosecute is the son of a police-officer.

I’m guessing that the government will step in today announcing an inquiry of some kind: you can’t have vigilante gangs forming in Auckland because police have failed to prevent their family members from (allegedly) gang-raping minors. I’ll be interested to find about how robust the investigation into this group was. If the Roastbusters were boasting about, say, manufacturing methamphetamine online the police would have probable grounds for intercept and surveillance warrants. Did they apply for warrants to gather evidence on these guys? If they did and simply didn’t find enough evidence to get a prosecution then that’s one thing, but if they didn’t even conduct a proper investigation . . .

November 4, 2013

Incentives in everything

Filed under: crime — danylmc @ 1:53 pm

The Police statement about the ‘Roastbusters’ a group of alleged gang-rapists who document their exploits on social media is interesting:

 Waitemata Police investigating rape allegations involving a group calling themselves the “RoastBusters” say a full and thorough investigation has been conducted, but in the absence of significant evidence such as formal statements, there is not enough evidence to prosecute the alleged offenders at this time.

Police have spoken with all identified and possible victims and their friends, on a number of occasions. We appreciate their difficult and traumatic situation however without further evidence such as formal statements Police are unable to prosecute the offenders in this case.  A Facebook site which was used by the suspects, although offensive and innapropriate, did not provide evidence which would allow the case to be put before a court.

Police acknowledge how difficult it is for victims of sex crimes to take the step of making a formal complaint to Police. Nobody should be subjected to this behaviour and it is very frustrating for the enquiry team who have worked tirelessly for months on the case.

In the past two weeks, Police contacted the girls again to see if any were at the stage where they felt able to make a formal statement to Police, and will continue to investigate this case and to build sufficient evidence to progress this matter.

I’m not sure if the police are correct about the legal situation, but it seems to me that their powerlessness in this matter sends a strong signal to rapists and potential rapists that they should target under-age victims and document the assault. Which seems like an odd message for the justice system to be putting out there.

August 16, 2013

The magic of jury duty

Filed under: crime — danylmc @ 8:23 am

I’d never been called for jury duty until this week. I always found it frustrating when friends and co-workers got selected and ducked out of it, getting their employers to write letters insisting they were invaluable and couldn’t be spared. Didn’t they want to do their civic duty? And, more excitingly, didn’t they want to sit in on an actual criminal trial? See what really went on? Glean that insight into society and the justice system?

Now I get it. Like most of the people who rolled up to Wellington District Court on Monday morning I didn’t actually do any civic duty or glean any insights. What most of us got to do was sit in a room on the third floor of the building, waiting. For hours. We got to do the same thing on Wednesday. Thursday was actually pretty quick. We only waited around for about an hour. Fortunately I wasn’t part of the cohort that got balloted on Wednesday and waited around all day for a trial that got cancelled.

A couple of weeks ago I thought the guy who a judge found in contempt for refusing to serve on a jury sounded like a douche-bag. Now I kinda see his point. The process does seem designed to inconvenience you as much as possible. Will you be called to appear at court the next day? They don’t tell you until after six o’clock when its too late to reschedule anything. If you appear and aren’t balloted can you just leave and go on with your day? Well, on Thursday we did, but on Wednesday they kept us at the court for an extra two hours for no apparent reason. Could I pick up my daughter from creche if I was selected for a jury? What time would the court adjourn for the day? Should my wife cancel all her late meetings so she could do it? No way to know. When would I know? No way to know that, either. That’s the magic of jury duty!

June 27, 2013

Overnight

Filed under: crime,Politics — danylmc @ 8:39 am

I don’t follow Australian politics too closely, and I didn’t have a dog in the Rudd-Gillard fight (Rudd won). I think the object lesson here is that rolling a sitting Prime Minister is an absolute last resort, a nuclear option that you exercise when their political career is over, not something you do opportunistically when their polling dips after they try and implement core party policy, which is what happened when Gillard rolled Rudd. It left her with a wounded but very-much-alive mortal enemy – who possessed the cunning, vicious egotism you generally find in Prime Ministers – inside her own party, and it doomed her government from the beginning.

In New Zealand terms it’s depressingly easy to imagine a similar outcome if David Cunliffe managed to somehow become Labour leader and then Prime Minister. He’d introduce, say, Capital Gains Tax there’d be a huge backlash from organised capital, and he’d get rolled with the first low poll. Maybe the Rudd-Gillard disaster would be a disincentive, but I doubt it.

Also, 3rd Degree had that Bain story! Via David Fisher at the Herald:

David Giles peered closely at the photograph on the screen of his computer.

On the thumb of Robin Bain, dead 19 years, were parallel marks of a kind he recognised instantly.

As a boy in the Waikato he would shoot rabbits and possums with a .22 rifle, the same calibre of rifle used to murder the Bain family.

After firing a magazine full of bullets, he would disengage the clip which fed more rounds into the rifle. Taking a bullet, he would push it into the top of the magazine using his thumb and then use the digit to fix the bullet in place. Doing so dragged the thumb across the top of the magazine – parallel metal sides which carried a light coating of burned gunpowder residue from the back-blast of the shots just fired. As the thumb came away, it carried twin lines from the gunpowder and grime on the top of the magazine.

Mr Giles told TV3′s 3rdDegree show he knew instantly what he was seeing on his computer. Robin Bain carried the same marks on his thumb any shooter would have after reloading the magazine on a recently fired rifle.

I’ve always thought that David Bain was guilty – mostly because the defense counter-factual in which Robin Bain killed his family, took off all his blood-stained clothes, put them in the wash, put on some different clothes then committed suicide – didn’t really make any sense. But now, after a privy court declaration of a mistrial, a re-trial with a not guilty verdict, the Binnie finding in favor of Bain and now forensic evidence suggesting Robin Bain fired a rifle, I have no idea what happened, and my inclination is that the taxpayer owes David Bain an enormous sum of money.

Update: Debate about the Bain case always reminds me of the Errol Morris short film about Umbrella Man.

April 28, 2013

How journalists could transform public perceptions about criminal justice

Filed under: crime — danylmc @ 8:17 am

Simply report the cost of the corrections system with the same breathlessness that they report the cost of the welfare system. This story is via Stuff, my additions in italics:

The controversial “three strikes” legislation has seen a young man jailed without parole and warned that if he steals another skateboard, hat or cellphone he will spend 14 years behind bars at a minimum cost to the taxpayer of $1.6 million dollars. 

In issuing Elijah Akeem Whaanga, 21, his second strike, Judge Tony Adeane told the Hastings man his two “street muggings” that netted “trophies of minimal value” meant his outlook was now “bleak in the extreme”.

“When you next steal a hat or a cellphone or a jacket or a skateboard you will be sent to the High Court and there you will be sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment without parole.” Judge Adeane said.

[Whaanga] committed two aggravated robberies with two separate accomplices.

The first involved taking a skateboard, hat and cigarette lighter from the victim after trying unsuccessfully to remove the victim’s jacket. The second involved Whaanga kicking the victim in the back of his leg and taking his hat and cellphone.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the case showed the law was working. Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar agreed, saying the sentence of two-and-a-half years’ jail with no parole at a cost to the taxpayer of $300,000 was “fantastic”.

It’s a nice illustration of how dumb it is for politicians like Judith Collins to showboat with the justice system by legislating away judge’s ability to decide sentences. It doesn’t matter if Whaanga beats someone so badly he sends them to hospital or just tries to pull their jacket off them, the sentence is the same. 14 years.

January 21, 2013

What (I think) Garth McVicar is trying to say

Filed under: crime,general idiocy — danylmc @ 11:25 am

As we all know:

Crime will rise if gay couples are allowed to marry, says the head of the country’s victim lobby group.

Sensible Sentencing Trust leader Garth McVicar has submitted to Parliament that changing the law to allow same-sex marriage will be yet another erosion of basic morals and values in society which have led to an escalation of child abuse, domestic violence, and an ever-increasing prison population.

“The marriage amendment bill will not benefit society at all and will ultimately have detremetal (sic) effect on crime at all levels,” the submission read.

This is part of a broader argument popular amongst US conservatives. It goes like this: take a look at a chart showing violent crime in the US since 1960.

vcrime500

So something happened in the 1960s to cause a staggering increase in violent crime, which then dropped sharply in the 1990s. The conservative argument is that the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s happened. People abandoned traditional values of family, religion, hard work, ect, and that caused society to crumble. It uncrumbled a bit in the 1990s, because of Reagan. Moreover, they’d argue that groups which have held onto these values are less prone to divorce, crime, and groups like minorities and poor whites who don’t uphold traditional values are poorer and cause many more social problems than people who are married, hard-working, religious etc. Gay marriage is not a traditional family value, hence legalising gay-marriage will lead to a crime wave.

There are plenty of alternative theories. The Superfreakonomics guys who think legalised abortion led to lower crime. The newest theory is that lead exposure is a causative factor in violent crime:

There may also be a medical reason for the decline in crime. For decades, doctors have known that children with lots of lead in their blood are much more likely to be aggressive, violent and delinquent. In 1974, the Environmental Protection Agency required oil companies to stop putting lead in gasoline. At the same time, lead in paint was banned for any new home (though old buildings still have lead paint, which children can absorb).

Tests have shown that the amount of lead in Americans’ blood fell by four-fifths between 1975 and 1991. A 2007 study by the economist Jessica Wolpaw Reyes contended that the reduction in gasoline lead produced more than half of the decline in violent crime during the 1990s in the U.S. and might bring about greater declines in the future. Another economist, Rick Nevin, has made the same argument for other nations.

I’d genuinely like to know what McVicar thinks of this theory, and if he’d be in favor of more stringent government regulation on the use of heavy metals in industry.

December 13, 2012

Fisher Binnie Idiot’s Summary (I am the idiot)

Filed under: crime — danylmc @ 6:02 pm

My initial take is:

Binnie: Was asked to advise Cabinet on whether he thought David Bain was innocent on the balance of probabilities. Binnie has not concluded that Bain was innocent ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ or guilty on the basis of the evidence, because – he argues – the police investigation against him was so incompetent that guilt or evidence could not be determined, and the initial prosecution should not have taken place. Due to these ‘extraordinary circumstances’ Bain can be said to be innocent in a legal sense. Binnie feels that due to actions by the New Zealand police and judiciary there has been a miscarriage of justice against David Bain and that the state should compensate Bain for this.

Fisher: Argues that Binnie wasn’t asked to determine whether there were extraordinary circumstances, or whether the justice system should pay restitution to Bain because of the way it handled the case. It asked him to weigh the evidence and determine his guilt or innocence on the balance of probabilities.

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