Alleged Roastbuster Beriah Hales.
A systemic breakdown in communication by police led to
inaccurate information being provided to the public amid the
Roastbusters scandal, a report into the incident says.
However, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) said
"no individual could be criticised" for that breakdown in
The IPCA was called in to investigate police handling of the
Roastbusters scandal after it emerged that initial
information given to media was incorrect.
It looked into the adequacy of the police investigation and
the handling of any complaints or reports to police from the
public between 2011 and October 2013. It also looked at the
information police gave to media.
It today released its findings in relation to the media,
saying it could not report publicly on the police
investigation as it was still ongoing.
The public's trust and confidence in police was "undermined"
by the release of inaccurate information, IPCA chairman Judge
Sir David Carruthers said today.
"In this instance the Minister of Police, the Commissioner
and the public were advised that no complaints or formal
statements had been received from any of the alleged victims
of the Roastbusters and that was the reason why police had
not been able to undertake further investigations or lay any
"This was incorrect," Sir David said.
"Although the authority accepts that there was no deliberate
decision to mislead by any police employee in this case, time
should have been taken to obtain the correct details from the
police files in response to questions from the media."
However, he blamed the problem on a "collective breakdown in
communication as a result of other commitments and time
pressures", and said no individual police officer could be
criticised for the mistake.
"The provision of inaccurate information was compounded by
the fact that the police did not identify or rectify the
mistake themselves, despite the opportunity to do so, and
instead had to admit mistakes publicly only when
contradictory information was ascertained and published by
the media. This resulted in a consequent negative effect on
the credibility of police."
Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess said police
were on record as saying its communications could have been
better and the IPCA had confirmed that.
"The IPCA points to a collective breakdown in communication
due to other commitments and the pressures of time. We agree
with that view," he said.
"Police is very aware of its obligation to communicate
accurately to the public at all times.
Unfortunately we did not get it right on this occasion and we
Mr Burgess noted that the IPCA made no recommendations in its
"I can, however, say that this has been a learning situation
for all staff involved and the issues highlighted in the
report will be raised directly with these staff."
Tolley welcomes report
Police Minister Anne Tolley said that although the breakdown
in communication was not deliberate, it was disappointing,
and she acknowledged the apology at the time from the Police
"It is vital that the public, and victims, have trust and
confidence in the actions of the police, which is why they
must do everything they can to provide accurate information.
"I await the outcome of the IPCA's review of the criminal
investigation, and acknowledge that it can't be released
until Operation Clover has been concluded," she said.