Police decided not to prosecute an officer involved in an
incident with off-duty officers, it has been revealed.
This month police were ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman
to release details on disciplinary action following the 2008
In a statement to the Otago Daily Times, Southern
District commander Superintendent Andrew Coster named the
officer as Constable Greg Dunne, a former detective sergeant.
Supt Coster, when asked to provide details of the incident,
replied: ''This incident relates to off-duty behaviour and
was the subject of appropriate police disciplinary action''.
He declined to release further details of the incident,
citing privacy reasons.
Const Dunne, when contacted yesterday, said there were a
number of errors in last week's ODT story, but
declined to elaborate.
In his statement, Supt Coster confirmed ''concerns about
Detective Sergeant Dunne's behaviour at a social gathering of
police employees were brought to the attention of his
employers by senior officers also in attendance''.
As a result, a preliminary investigation was carried out,
which led to a disciplinary hearing.
''Disciplinary action was instituted,'' Supt Coster said.
As a consequence, the former detective sergeant was demoted
to the rank of constable, and suspended - on full pay - for a
period of less than three weeks, Supt Coster confirmed.
''Criminal charges were considered, but the police applied
the facts of the alleged offending to the Solicitor-general's
prosecution guidelines and decided not to prosecute on the
basis that a prosecution would not be in the public interest,
as it was likely it would not succeed.''
When asked if Const Dunne was treated differently because he
was a police officer, Supt Coster said ''members of police
are subject to the same scrutiny as any person would be in
cases of alleged criminal offending''.
''More often than not, the jeopardy to a police officer's
employment resulting from a criminal offence is greater than
that which would arise through a criminal prosecution.''
University of Canterbury criminologist Prof Greg Newbold said
any case against officers should be ''an independent
''The police should not be the ones making the decision to
prosecute their own kind,'' he said.
Supt Coster said Crown prosecution guidelines required police
to consider the likelihood that a prosecution should succeed
in light of the evidence available.
The evidential standards for criminal prosecutions ''beyond
reasonable doubt'' was higher that those applied to those in
an employment context, ''on the balance of probabilities''.
''In this case, the assessment was that the threshold for
criminal prosecution was not met.''
Supt Coster said: ''In this case, the conduct complained of
was off-duty and involved only members of police.''
This month, the Ombudsman formed a final opinion that much of
what the Otago Daily Times requested under the
Official Information Act could be withheld because of
''However, in responding to information requests about how
the police deal with complaints about serving police
officers, the public interest in the accountability of the
police and public confidence in the police require release of
a summary that confirms the steps taken to ensure that
concerns about an officer's conduct were thoroughly
investigated and that any appropriate disciplinary action was