Tuesday, 14 October 2008

we think the price is worth it

i'm a little hesitant to post just now, when so many exciting and interesting posts have gone up today, in that i don't want to take people's focus away from those other things. and i think the candidate's survey has been going amazingly well. kudos to the team for putting it together.

however, i just could not resist mentioning this press release from the nz police, because it makes me so damn angry. they have decided to publish the cost of the louise nicholas investigation, apparently in the "public interest" and "in response to a number of requests".

what f*&%ing public interest? how can it be in the public interest to reveal the cost of this case and not the one, say, of the man who murdered emma agnew? or any number of other cases where women have been sexually assaulted and killed. i can not read this press release in any way other than that the police are continuing to harass louise nicholas. they want people to look a the cost and go "OMG, what a terribly huge amount of money that woman has cost us! what a waste!" they may try to justify it by saying "look how seriously we take these kinds of complaints, look how much time and money we've spent on it". but they knew full well when they released the figure in that tidy little press release, people were really going to think "OMG, what a terribly huge amount of money that woman has cost us! what a waste!"

furthermore, they say that"while police normally do not have systems in place to accurately record costs of such cases, because of the unique nature of this case; it was set up with its own cost centre." in other words, they had decided to report on the figure right from the beginning of the investigation. why else would they bother to specifically set up a separate cost centre, something they weren't doing for other investigations?

but let's say that we accept it's ok for them to target this specific case in this way. look at the press release. it doesn't say "and we believe it is money well spent" or "we think it's important to put our time and energy towards investigating such serious allegations, regardless of the outcome in court". it is silent on the whole issue. which is more reason to think they have done this purely for harassment. much in the same way that the costs of the zaoui case were continually made public, in order to reduce possible public sympathy for the person involved.

for me to give reasons why this money was well spent plays into the hands of the police. it means i accept their assertion that we should make some judgement about the cost of justice and whether it was worth it in this case. a judgement they are not requiring of any other investigation. and i really don't want to do that. yet if i don't, they still win, because people will be making a judgement anyway, without the benefit arguments in support of the expenditure, simply because the figure has been publicised.

this is ugly behaviour, and shows that the culture-change required in our police force (per the findings of dame margaret beazley) is not happening fast enough. this is yet another deterrent for women to report rape and sexual abuse, knowing not only that they will face an excruciating court case and possible public vilification (of the slapper/bimbo variety) but the possibility that the police may choose to throw such information into the public arena to undermine them further.

it's just not good enough. can any persons with some legal background tell me whether a formal complaint can be made about this, particularly to the independent police conduct authority? and would it be worth the trouble?


Anna said...

'Ugly behaviour' is exactly what it is - I'm disgusted by it. It's made that much worst by the cynical fact that it's been released pre-election, in the hope that someone will use it as a political stirring tactic.

Victor said...

Quite right. I can't see any other explanation for the police actions.

Deborah said...

Yeah... the rhetorical intent seems very, very dubious to me.

Even describing it differently would help a little. How about the cost of investigating the behaviour of police officers was $xxx. Actually, that would be in the public interest - we need to know how much it costs us when the police are themselves the criminals.

Julie said...

When I heard someone from the police talking about this on the radio he said that they had released the information in response to a number of OIA requests about the cost. I'd be keen to know just who made those requests...

Hugh said...

They've made a press release due to OIA requests? I'm pretty sure that's not how the OIA works.

Anonymous said...

It's quite common for newsrooms to put OIA requests in for the cost of big investigations. It's usually done for murders, big civil investigations.

And Hugh, in the event that several media organisations make basically the same OIA requests, departments will often issue a press release, so they don't have to do several responses. And then the individual organisations are free to follow them up for more info.

stargazer said...

yes but the point is that in most investigations, the police wouldn't have been able to give an answer as they don't have separate cost centres set up for them. but they did for this one, well before any OIA requests came in. why would they do that?