Sunday, May 13, 2007

There's a reason this keeps happening

It should come as no surprise to regular readers that there are a few political differences between me and Ian Wishart. I don't trust his judgement, or his motives. I don't think we can necessarily rely on his journalism.

His latest allegations are outlined in this (rather badly formatted) post.

Some of those allegations shouldn't surprise anyone - police officers were able to rape prostitutes with impunity when prostitution was illegal. It wouldn't surprise me if the larger allegations are true (and they're consistent with comments left at the end of this thread).

The pornographic video shown in Howard Broad's house seems minor if you compare it to the other allegations. But, to me, it shows a pattern of contempt for women, willingness to ignore laws around non-consensual sex when fellow officers broke them, and putting male bonding above all else (don't forget this was all to raise money for the police rugby team).

This raises the problem of what could possibly be done about a police force where police officers have regularly abused and exploited women.* If some police officers in the area regularly demanded sex from the local brothels, then it's likely that other police officers in the area knew about it. No-one who stood by while that was going on should be in the police force any longer. Likewise, anyone who promoted Clint Rickards, knowing that a police report had found that he had abused his power, should not be in the police force. Who is left? Anyone who had stood up against violence and abuse wouldn't have survived; anyone who didn't should not have the power they do.

For me this shows one of the fundamental problem with the police. Abuse, including rape, appears to be an inevitable result of the sort of power we give police. I know people have different analyses about how much good the police do (I come down on the side of 'none'). But even if you believe that the police do improve society, do you really believe that what happened to Louise Nicholas, Judith Garrett and countless other women is an acceptable side effect of that good?

* The police also have a history of racism, homophobia, and abusing their power left, right and centre.


  1. Anonymous12:55 pm

    I'm posting anon because I've already had members of my family threatened.

    I know that Peter Ellis is guilty. There are children (now adults) who never went through the possibly faulty interviews with the psychologists because their parents never laid the complaints with the police.

    When Lynley Hood was writing her book the parents of these kids asked her to interview them and she refused.

    These parents have been threatened with violence to keep quiet, as have professionals who had contact with these children in later circumstances.

    There is an entire veil of lies and secrecy about the Ellis case. I don't know how far it extends and I don't if the abuse was ritualistic or not, but I do know that those children were sexually and mentally abused and that some Ellis supporters are prepared to silence people through violent threats.

    I have no idea if David Bain is guilty or innocent, but it makes me feel sick to see his case applied to Peter Ellis. The children who were sexually abused have had to face years of their abuse being denied. Some have left New Zealand because of that.

    I'm sorry for not going public with more detailed information or my identity, but our family have been advised by certain journalists (who are aware of all this information because they too have been threatened) to keep our heads down and our mouth shut and to never name who has specifically threatened us.

    I'm sure I only know a fragment of the real story, and normally I think Ian Wishart is a dork, but he's on to something here.

    Sadly Anon

  2. Anonymous3:24 pm

    Maia - I had a question to ask you about the New Zealand police, but I couldn't ask it on Alas, so I'll ask it here. If it's too off topic I'm sorry and go ahead and delete it. Having said that -

    How are the police organized in New Zealand? Here in the U.S. at any given time you are in the juristiction of the municipal police (your local town or city, normally), the State Police (who enforce the state's laws and patrol the large high-speed expressways) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who are charged with enforcing Federal (i.e., national) law or in cases where when a law breaker in one state flees to another state. You speak of the New Zealand police as though the entire country has one police force. Is that so? Or is there something I'm missing?

    I ask to get an understanding of the extent of the problem you're talking about, and to get an idea of at what level there must be some kind of at best apathy and at worst collusion in the New Zealand government's executive function. Who's in charge of keeping an eye on the cops, anyway? Who do they report to - who's accountable outside the police departments for what the police do?


  3. RonF - we only have on police force (we only have 4 million people). The police commissioner (top cop) reports to parliament.

    NZ has quite a hands off system between the public service and parliament (for instance we don't have political appointments to the public service, instead the public service is supposed to be neutral). Much though I don't like them the current government has been quite consistent in taking a stand against this. It was the Prime Minister who refused Clint Rickards promotion to deputy commissioner.

    Whether there was previously apathy and collusion I couldn't comment.

  4. ScrubOne - if you post abusive comments like that again I will ban you from this blog.

  5. Anonymous1:22 am

    Thanks, Maia. That then leads me to the questions of a) how is it that the top cops get their jobs, and b) who outside the police department reviews their performance?

    Police join all American police forces by meeting certain physical and educational requirements and then passing a special examination. These vary from force to force and are higher for some forces (especially for the higher levels like State and Federal) than for others. Advancement is predicated on one's record and on passing further exams. As one rises to the top of the pyramid, human nature is such that there are some political issues. By political I mean not so much partisian politics but informal human interactions. Usually the very top echelon tends to be appointed by the top levels of the executive departments with the advice and consent of the legislature.

    Review of police performance varies. In fact, in Chicago there was just a change. There have been some high profile incidents. Recently an off-duty cop beat the crap out of a bartender because she wouldn't serve him any more drinks. The whole thing was caught on the bar's security cameras. The cop lost his job; I don't know what charges if any are being brought. This was followed by two changes. One was that the Chicago Chief of Police, who was due to retire in about a year, resigned. What influence the Mayor had in that is not known o me. The second was that the board that reviews complaints against police was placed completely out of the police department's control (before it had been under the department's control but had civilians, not police, on it).

    Regardless of the exact mechanism, it is generally considered that the top levels of the governments' executive authorities are held directly responsible for the performance of the police departments under their control. I'm curious as to how the processes of advancement, and reponsibility/accountability work in New Zealand.

    Yeah, the City of Chicago itself (about 25 km from me) has about 2.75 million people in it. What is considered the Chicago Metropolitan area, which is all within, say, about 50 km of me, has about 6 or 7 million people in it. East is the biggest lake in the United States (about 160 km across by 500 km long), north, west and south is all farm land for 100's (even 1000's) of kilometers. In farm areas there tend to be large areas not included in any municipality (a.k.a. "unincorporated land"), and in those areas the lowest level of police are the County or Sheriff's Police.


  6. Anonymous1:28 am

    I'm also coming around to a point you raised at Amp's place about the necessity of police power. Here in the U.S. there is a concept of checks and balances in the government. Without going into a lot of details, there are ways for two of the three branches (executive, legislative, and judicial) to remove members of the third branch and to nullify their acts.

    It seems to me that the problem is not that police power exists, as it has to exist as long as there are criminals. It seems more to me that at least in the case of the New Zealand police there is inadequate supervision ("checks and balances") operating to keep people from using their power for their own gratification instead of the society's needs.


  7. On the subject of Ian Wisharts journalistic integraty, its worth noting that an article is this same issue cites Trevor Loundon as a source.

  8. Obviously I don't particularly trust Ian Wishart (although as far as I know he got everyone about the SFWU northern election shenanigans pretty much right).

    My point is more about the impossibility of cleaning up the police. Particularly given that many of the accusations are things that I would assume to have been true (like police raping prostitutes).

  9. Anonymous7:08 pm

    About the Peter Ellis Case.

    Dear anonymous you talk about Ellis as though he is backed by a bunch of patched gang members.
    The Police got it horribly wrong, one of the investigating officers even made a pass at one of the mothers.
    Ellis was demonised for being gay. The Police even initiated a discusting rumour about Ellis's relationship with his mother.
    The Bain case sum's up the police perfectly,if your a rugby loving misogynist who enjoy's bestiality that = normality, but if your an opera loving male who like's to wear home knitted pullovers,& still doing a paper round at 22, that = abnormality, which = mass murderer.
    All I ask is for the police to admit their mistakes.

  10. Maia...I realise we come from opposite sides of the planet, but I don't actually believe that people are all-Left or all-Right or all-Good or all-Bad. In other words, there is room for common ground on some issues.

    One of those is on sex offences against women. I think my track record on the Nicholas case speaks for itself, so what I am arguing now is not inconsistent.

    So why is it that Farrar, Public Address and TBR are haunted by social-liberal males with only a thin veneer of civilisation on them?

    Take this comment from Peter at TBR, which is similar to one by Russell Brown.

    They appear to be arguing that the women in this latest case either deserved it or are liars, simply because they are sex workers.

    You and your readers may choose to ignore it, but if you feel as strongly about it as I do you might also wish to drag some of these halfwits into line with a few choice comments of your own.

    Up to you. Peter's comment follows:

    The poor woman in gaol is presumably one of about 50 per cent of all inmates who do not believe they deserve to be there.

    She used to be a prostitute . is that right?

    Convicted on murder or something? A really flash witness.

    In which case, an excellent argument for legalisation of prostitution.

    Much harder to blackmail now.

    Agree Ian?

    Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!

    Posted by: peter | May 16, 2007 at 06:08 PM

    The link to that post is:

  11. Anonymous3:26 pm

    When the "rotorua 3" were found not guilty in their last trial, Wishart stated on his website that he knew that the one without a prior conviction for the alleged offence was guilty.

    Apparently the name of Clinton Rickards IS going to surface in the Dunedin story detailed in the latest Investigate. (Although he isn't named in the article, he is referred to.) Seems where there's police rape and gang-banging occurring, Rickards will appear.

    Speaking of Clint, this has just been post at TBR (scroll down to N.Z.):


  12. Anonymous2:22 pm

    sorry Maia

    was not sure where to post this link fyi delete if you wish ....

    sad news :(