Police ramping up the hype to arm themselves

TVNZ reported tonight that the incidents of police confiscating illegal firearms is at record highs. Notice the title of the item is “Significant spike in illegally owned firearms” but the graphic we were shown demonstrates both “legal AND illegal firearms seizures” from 2010/2011 to 2014/2015.

TVNZ Graphic on both legal and illegal firearms seized

How many of the 1504 firearms in 2014/2015 that were seized were illegal please? Surely that’s what the story is about.

We then get the voice over that confiscation of “the number of cut down shotguns has increased four fold.”

So when a media outlet doesn’t mention numbers, but goes to percentage increases it always raises a red flag with me because a four fold increase could be from one confiscation to four confiscations, or it could be from one hundred to four hundred, the devil is in the detail.

Currently the Police get about 1.7 million calls per year to their call center, from that there are 1500 firearms seized each year, of which we don’t know how many are illegal and we don’t know how many firearms are seized per call out, in other words there may be six firearms taken from one incident. But as you can see growing from roughly 1,000 firearm confiscations to 1,500 over five years out of potentially 1.7 million call outs does not support Greg O’Connors statement that “all of a sudden there’s a lot more firearms around out there.”

To their credit TVNZ does suggest that the number of call outs that involve firearms are “less than 0.5% of total recorded crime” although I wager that’s probably a little high of you think that 1,500 firearms confiscations out of 1.7 million calls is only 0.09% but I guess I can give them credit to painting the picture that this is not as dramatic as perhaps Mr. O’Conner is painting it.

Overall I am really concerned about this kind of story, it’s not actually about arming the police to me, it’s about how the media disseminates information and passes it onto us. It seems that TVNZ hasn’t asked the pertinent questions here or, if they have asked them, the Police haven’t given them the answers, either way it’s a lose for the NZ public in being informed.

It’s also completely clear now that Greg O’Connor is hell bent on arming the Police and for my part I am open to that conversation but only when all the information is on the table and the hype and hysteria about ‘four fold increases’ is turned into metrics that are open and obvious for the public of NZ to enable us to make an informed decision.

Thanks for the precedence Kim Dotcom

I think there is a lot to thank Kim Dotcom for.

Personally I’d like to thank him for making me feel small (and there ‘aint that many people who can do that) but there is also much the country can thank him for and the most obvious is showing up the flaws in the GCSB and how our spies operate, although I think we shouldn’t thank anyone for where it’s gone from there into new legislation.

I would also like to thank Kim Dotcom for one more thing, I want to thank him for being the unwilling catalyst for the legal precedence that we will all be able to use and abuse for years to come to get out of many infringements that we made by mistake.

TVNZ reported last night that no charges would be laid against anyone at the GCSB and Detective Superintendent Peter Read told media “that in spite of the GCSB committing one breach under the provisions of the Crimes Act, no criminal “intent” by the GCSB could be established.

The official statement by DS Peter Read was

“While GCSB staff did commit the act prohibited by section 216B of the Crimes Act 1961, they did not have the necessary intent to satisfy the elements of the offence and be considered criminally liable,”

In other words because it was a mistake, and there was no intent, no one would be liable.

So, next time you don’t intend to speed…it just accidentally creeps up, or genuinely forget to file your GST, or you infringe on a law genuinely by mistake or misunderstanding there is a legal precedence for you to say “well officer, much like the GCSB, I had no intention of committing that crime, it was an accident” and they surely must be obliged to let you off…he says sarcastically

Bradley Ambrose denied to right to stop his name being smeared

Yesterday we found out that the Police were not going to press charges against freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose.

Forget the accusations about Police holding onto the decision until John Key was away, forget the forced “letter of regret” as opposed to a “letter of apology”, forget the accusation of bullying as the Crown seeks court costs but let’s just have a look at one part of this where I am feeling very uncomfortable.

From OneNews

But today police revealed they will not lay charges against Ambrose, despite finding the recording to be unlawful.

Police said they agreed the conversation was private and said the recording was at best “reckless”, but more likely deliberate.

In this small release, we find out that the Police have deemed the action unlawful, deliberate and the conversation private…the problem is that this is not the Police’s job.

They have ‘passed sentence’ on Bradley Ambrose, and he has no right of recourse in court, unless he then chooses to take a libel action himself…which seems unlikely.

This morning David Slack quoted Graham Edgeley by saying that if there is any public statement about guilt prior to a conviction is a violation of the presumption of innocence.

In this case the Police have said Ambrose is guilty and wrong…when it’s not their job to do so.

The Panel with Bob McCoskrie and David Slack

Bob and David chat about SKY City sponsoring celebrities to come and be on site, have the Police handled the Teapot saga well and their thoughts on the one month anniversary of the shooting of Treyvon Martin in Florida by George Zimmerman

Police raids seem…no longer picky!

Well after my bitchy post yesterday about the disparity between the police raiding a community with allegations, and leaving alone an establishment that is flouting the law it was interesting to see this article on stuff.co.nz

Police have raided an Auckland warehouse where pro-cannabis activists were allegedly selling the drug from a vending machine.

Four people were arrested and police seized $27,000 cash, cannabis and drug paraphernalia from the New Lynn Daktory last night.

The raid comes after Auckland Now revealed yesterday people could buy one gram bags of cannabis for $20 from the vending machine at the clubhouse. Police seized the machine last night.

Police said there were 20 people at the Delta Ave property at the time of the raid.

A backpack containing the cash was found, along with half a kilo of pre-packaged cannabis. Police also seized a “large assortment” of utensils, bongs, pipes, spotting knives and loose cannabis.

Three men and one woman were arrested and charged with various drug-related offences, including possession of cannabis and possession for supply. They will appear in the Waitakere District Court on Wednesday.

Waitemata Detective Inspector Bruce Scott said police would continue to monitor activities at the Daktory.

Bravo police, it’s about consistency, I applaud you

NZ Government ‘kowtowed’ to the US over Dotcom

Yesterday Barrister Gary Gotlieb stated in court that NZ ‘kowtowed’ to American business interests in the case against Kim Dotcom.

This statement comes amongst revelations that the seizure of Dotcoms property was illegal because “police applied for the wrong kind of order” according to Justice Potter

Kim Dotcome has been granted $60,000 per month to live off, access to his 2011 Mercedes and the crown needs to pay him $5,000 for legal costs to sort out the incorrect seizure of his goods.

In court yesterday Barrister Gary Gotlieb stated.

”Someone else in the world will be doing it, and simply to bend towards business interests in America, which is really what it’s about, kowtowing to business interests in America, I would have thought would not sit comfortably with many New Zealanders.”

And for me I agree with much of this statement,

When I interviews a retired FBI agent of 32 years who looked at the case for me, he stated quite plainly that the case came from the Motion Picture Association of America amongst other, they complained and the FBI sprang into action.

Crown lawyer Anne Toohey said that American was not controlling this extradition situation, it is handled under crown law

”Every day we get requests for forms of assistance from all countries all over the world, including restraint of assets, execution of search warrants and that manner of thing. For us it is really daily business.”

This still has the feeling of American sneezing and the NZ catching a cold to me, I hope it’s proven otherwise but I will continue to follow this case with great interest.

Urewera 4 win, the Crown and Police look foolish

I said in a post on my old blog that the Urewera 18 deserved an apology. My main point is that 13 if then were put through 4 years of being accused of being terrorists and criminals and then all charges were dropped. Some of these people lost work, had to move, we separated from family all around these charges and then the charges were just dropped.

From the post

If the police put you or I through 4 years of being accused terrorists, to the detriment of our families, relationships and finances then just threw it all in saying “not enough evidence” we’d demand an apology.

And more

I have no idea what happened in Te Urewera’s for these arrests to have taken place, I don’t neither support, nor do I condemn, the so called Urewera 18. All I know is that if you or I were put through what they were put through we’d expect, and deserve, an apology.
Why should it be any different for them?

I know what your thinking…”just because the ‘4’ were not convicted of the more serious crime of being a part of a criminal organisation…that doesn’t mean they aren’t”…well actually you’re wrong, that’s exactly what it means. In the eyes of the law these ‘4’ are not a part of the criminal organisation that they were accused of. The burden of proof is always on the prosecution, we are innocent until proven guilty, which means if you can’t prove it…in the eyes of the justice system…I didn’t do it.

I think John Minto makes a fair point

In the Auckland High Court yesterday afternoon it all boiled down to a handful of convictions of four people for technical breaches of the Arms Act. That was it. So after many millions spent during 18 months of surveillance, more millions spent on the prosecution and following 30,000 pages of evidence the police bagged a small number of minor convictions on what one of the defence lawyers described as “holding changes”.

Just think about the progressions of these charges.

Five years ago we had ‘terrorists’ being charged, that got downgraded to ‘criminal organisation’, which upon the end of the court case was downgraded to some minor firearms charges. That’s a pretty big fall!

“We thought we had Osama bin Laden…but we ended up with a pig hunter with an unlicensed firearm!”

No I am not naive to think that nothing ‘dodgy’ was happening in the Urewera’s, but as of today we cannot place guilt on these people.

If these are dangerous criminals, then the Police have let the whole country down, if they are not then the Police owe them an apology.

It would appear that the judge did not think these ‘4’ were a danger to society as he grated them bail and they are today at home with their families. The Crown opposed bail, but the judge granted it anyway

There is one other part of this story that I have major concerns about.

If any institution in this fine country should be above reproach, then it needs to be our justice system. The justice system needs to dot its ‘i’s’ and cross its ‘t’s’. The idea that the court room will accept information that has been gathered illegally makes me, at best, uncomfortable.

I understand that is an accusation is so serious it may be acceptable in those instances, but in this case the prosecution have not been able to get a conviction on the more serious charges, so does that mean it wasn’t the kind of case where this should have been allowed…obviously I cannot say for sure any which way…but to have a government change the legislation of this country, to introspectively make illegal evidence legal…then not get the conviction sends warning signs to me.

If nothing else, I think the police owe the people of Ruatoki an apology for the so called raids…I don’t have a problem with them investigating what was going on, but how they did it requires an acknowledgement that they were wrong.