Police views on child-abuse cases slammed

NZ Herald May 19, 2010

A national inquiry into an “unacceptable” backlog of child-abuse cases has uncovered evidence that some police do not believe investigating such crimes is “real policing” and described child-abuse investigators as “poor cousins”. The Independent Police Conduct Authority yesterday released the first part of an investigation which was launched when it emerged that Wairarapa police had let 108 child-abuse files go uninvestigated for up to 11 years, with an average delay of five years. In some cases children had been living with their alleged abusers the whole time.

While the police had made a number of improvements in investigating child abuse, the IPCA found:
* The Whangarei Child Abuse Team had a small number of staff that were often required to work on other cases, including to “assist in meeting road policing targets”.
* The Eastern District was criticised for recording serious crime files as “lost” when they were not. The files were later found in a cabinet which the IPCA said may have been a “means of reducing overdue file statistics”.
* An audit of the Westport CIB found “lost files” locked in the cupboards of a detective constable who had since left the police.
* Police using Excel spreadsheets instead of the national computer system because they lost confidence in it.
* Evidence of references to child- abuse investigation as not being “real policing” and to child-abuse investigators as “poor cousins”.