Dunedin police breached check policy

Dunedin Central Police Station. Photo: ODT files
Dunedin Central Police Station. Photo: ODT files
Dunedin police failed to conduct sufficient checks on a man in their cells who attempted to harm himself, an internal review has found.

In the first three months of this year, 62 Otago or Southland police staff were involved in incidents leading to professional conduct allegations.

A January incident resulted in the only known upheld allegation against Southern police so far this year, details of which came to light after inquiries by the Otago Daily Times.

It involved a 28-year-old man who was arrested on breach-of-bail matters and held in the Dunedin Police Station cells, a police spokesman said.

"While in the cell block he attempted to self-harm, and was located by police staff who provided immediate assistance, also requesting assistance from ambulance staff and mental health [services]."

Police launched an internal investigation and reported the incident to the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

The internal investigation found police breached policy through insufficient checks on the man while he was in custody.

The spokesman said the failure to conduct enough cell checks was because of a shortage of staff that day.

"As a result of the investigation changes were made to internal systems to address any future staffing shortages."

In the first quarter of this year, there were 68 allegations against police in the Southern district (Otago and Southland), stemming from 55 incidents involving a total of 62 staff, 48 of whom were sworn officers and the remaining 14 civilian employees or unidentified.

The allegations relate to use of force on duty, arrests or custodial matters, service failure, unprofessional behaviour, breach of official conduct, workplace behaviour, use of police resources and off-duty-conduct.

Police completed 25 internal investigations from January to March in the Southern District, according to official figures, upholding one allegation.

Over the same period nationally, there were more than 1000 allegations.

Investigators upheld at least one allegation in 35 cases.

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