Police maintain silence on disciplinary actions

Southern police have continued to decline to say what disciplinary actions were taken against officers responsible for failures in the handling of child killer Edward Livingstone.

Repeated attempts by the Otago Daily Times to uncover how many officers were disciplined for their handling of the Livingstone case and what measures they faced have been rejected by Southern police.

This month, police refused to release information under the Official Information Act, saying it was necessary to ''protect the privacy of natural persons''.

Southern District commander Superintendent Andrew Coster confirmed in April that police took action against some of their own following the deaths of Bradley (9) and Ellen (6) Livingstone at the hands of their father in St Leonards last year.

The children were shot in their beds by their father, and their mother Katharine Webb's estranged husband, Edward Livingstone, in the St Leonards home they shared with Ms Webb on January 15, 2014.

Livingstone then turned the gun on himself.

In April this year, an inquest into the trio's deaths uncovered significant failures which meant Livingstone's risk to his family went undetected by police and the other agencies charged with keeping the family safe.

Southern police revealed in April that no officers were dismissed over their handling of the case.

''Where any deficiencies have been identified in the police handling of the Livingstone case, these have been appropriately addressed with the members concerned,'' Supt Coster said at the time.

Last month, police confirmed no officers were stood down over their handling of the case.

Police have not said exactly what actions officers did face.

Supt Coster said, after Chief Coroner Judge Deborah Marshall released her findings into the deaths, that police would not comment on how many officers were disciplined or what measures they faced for their failings in the case.

''Police can confirm that while no officers were stood down, any failings or issues identified after the events have been appropriately addressed between police and the employees concerned,'' he said.

Any employment matters ''must remain confidential between employer and employee'', he said.

When asked if any officers were found to have failed to provide appropriate care, a Southern police spokesman said police would not comment.

This month, the ODT attempted to obtain information under the Official Information Act which might reveal the number of officers sanctioned for their failures in the case and the disciplinary actions taken.

However, two days after police received the request, Chris Kelley, of the Southern district investigative support unit, said it had been declined.

''I have carefully considered your request and decided to refuse it ... in order to protect the privacy of natural persons including that of deceased natural persons,'' the reply said.

''In this case personal details and circumstances of persons involved have been withheld.''

Supt Coster said changes had been made to Southern police after the deaths.

He was confident that police mistakes in their handling of the case would not be repeated.

timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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