It is often the lament of lawyers working in the criminal jurisdiction that one of the hardest parts about their jobs is dealing with the lies police constantly come up with, often whilst giving evidence under oath. Evidence they release via the disclosure process is selective and often not a true reflection of the contextual facts. To describe the police in this country as professional perjurers is not as far fetched as it may seem at first blush.
Government and indeed the police themselves would have the public believe that they are held to account by the Independent Police Complaints Authority and their own internal disciplinary procedures. The “Independent” part of the IPCA’s name is about as farcical as the belief that our police are honest upright individuals who can do no wrong. Hardly a week passes when some adverse publicity about the activities of some wayward police officer does not surface.
In reality almost all but a small percentage of complaints to the IPCA are “investigated” by the police themselves and their agenda is always blatantly clear. That being to protect their own even if this is achieved at the expense of manipulating witnesses and the evidence to paint a picture that suits their ends.
Testimony to this philosophy is that most police treat complaints as an occupational hazard and it is often with pride that some individuals boast about the number of complaints they have had made against them.
All one need do is take a cursory look at the history of some of those who are now in senior management positions within police and it becomes clear that those attitudes and cultures that have helped them claw their way up the ranks are alive and well today.
A typical but my no means isolated example of this is Detective Inspector Mike Oxnam the head of Kapi Mana CIB. In his younger days Oxnam was not adverse to using his size and bullying tactics to achieve his own ends and there are stories of him beating a prisoner around the head with a telephone book until that hapless individual’s ears bled. Those who have known Oxnam over decades observe that he was a bully and thug at school and thus the police was a perfect career choice for him.
Now that Oxnam and many others like him have reached senior ranks their tactics and methodology may have changed but the same attitudes and propensity for perjury remain just as dominant.
It is not all that long ago that Oxnam stated to a member of the public that he did not care what laws or rules his staff broke just as long as they got results. Speaking about one of his then subordinates, Detective Stu Taylforth, he went on to say that he knew Taylforth had told a few lies and broken some rules but that was of no consequence to him because he managed to arrest people. Another of Oxnam’s staff was criticized by a judge when that detective was giving evidence in the Porirua District Court. The presiding judge told this detective that he did not believe anything he had said. Police management took no action whatsoever against the detective involved and no doubt he continues lying in the same fashion, secure in the knowledge that his masters support such behaviour.
The country’s police stations are littered with this attitude and as Government continue to give police increasing powers the public need to be alarmed and take a stand. With the elections looming this is the time to start asking your politicians the hard questions.