Act change to validate oaths

Police are tight-lipped on arrests made by 63 officers, now the focus of Parliament going into urgency to pass a retrospective law to validate their oaths.

Police Minister Anne Tolley confirmed an amendment to the Policing Act 2008 was introduced into Parliament under urgency yesterday.

Police had received advice from Crown Law that the legislative fix was required to remove doubt over 63 former constables who returned to the police force between October 2009 and July 2013.

The Bill would retrospectively authorise the oath the officers took when they rejoined police ''to avoid any attempt by defendants to exploit this issue''.

Affected officers had previously been sworn in by district commanders or inspectors. However, the 2008 Policing Act stated oaths could only be administered by the police commissioner or a person authorised by the commissioner.

Mrs Tolley said those officers had been properly sworn in ''once this administrative error was identified''.

She was critical of the police regarding the oversight.

''It's disappointing that we are having to take this action, and I've expressed my concerns to the commissioner.''

A spokesman for the minister said she had not been advised on how many arrests those officers had been involved in, or what police districts they came from.

The questions were directed to Police National Headquarters which confirmed they would be answered by an Official Information Act request, which would take up to 20 working days.

The Policing (Constable's Oaths Validation) Amendment Bill is to be supported by all parties. However, Green Party justice spokesman David Clendon has written to the Auditor-general calling for an inquiry.

Emergency legislation was passed by MPs last term after another error was found concerning oaths for new recruits. That law change did not include the 63 officers who rejoined the police force.

- hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

 

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