Dealing With The Police

Making a complaint to the Police

When making a complaint (such as breach of a trespass order), note the policeman's name & number, date, time and notes of what was said and ask for a photocopy of the complaint form.

This complaint will be allocated a file number which should be quoted when further enquiries are made. If you have already made a complaint but didn't note the file number, you can help the police to find the file by giving your surname, date and type of complaint.

It is important to understand that the police will prioritise your complaint from (1) most urgent to (6) least urgent and it may take up to one month for them to act if it is seen as a low risk/priority. Their action may range from a warning through to arrest and charge.

Solving a problem with the Police

Talk to the police officer concerned first explaining that you disagree with their decision and why. Sometimes a simple misunderstand can be resolved quickly.

If you are unhappy with the outcome, ask to see their commanding offer and explain the situation to them. Make sure you get the name and number of the police officer involved.

Complain Formally

Make an appointment to see a commanding officer and write a letter clearly stating:

 * What the problem is or what particular incident occurred, including the time and place
 * What has happened so far and what you want to see happen
 * Any other relevant information, e.g., who was there; copies of any relevant documents or letters.

If you are still unhappy, or you feel you can not approach the police directly, you can refer your complaint to the Police Complaints Authority.

The Police Complaints Authority

The office of the Police Complaints Authority is an independent civilian body set up to consider complaints about the conduct of the police. They are funded by the Ministry of Justice. The Authority itself is a single qualified barrister or solicitor, judge or retired judge who holds a warrant from the Governor-General and is responsible to Parliament. They will:
* Investigate your complaint
* Consider the evidence, including interviewing witnesses
* Interview the police officer involved
* Let you know the result of their investigation in writing

The Police Complaints Authority is a free service and investigations are conduted in private.

How To Complain

To make your complaint, put it in writing, setting out:
* What action by the police is concerning you
* When and where it occurred and who was present
* Why you think the action was incorrect
* Whether you have spoken to a senior police officer about it
* The reaction you received from that senior officer

If there are any written documents involved in your complaint, such as letters from the police, witness statements, doctor's reports or photographs, enclose photocopies with your letter to the Complaints Authority. Always keep original documents safe.

Send your complaint either directly to the Authority, to any police station, Ombudsman or Registrar of a District Court all complaints are forwarded to the Authority.

The Authority examines all complaints when received. They then decide whether to:
* Ask the Police commissioner to arrange a police investigation
* Supervise a police investigation themselves
* Carry out an investigation using only staff from the Police Complaints Authority

All investigations are reviewed by the Authority, whoever carries them out.

Address for Police Complaints Authority:

P O Box 5025

Ph: (04) 499 2050 or 0800 503 728
Fax: (04) 499 2053

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