Keeping the peace
Last year my 7th wish was:
7. Police Act review by Parliament upsets police senior management by tightening quality control of applicants, making senior officials more accountable, limiting their use of weapons, declaring they have no exclusivity in many respects they are assumed to now, and beginning the mechanics of a formalised local accountability.
It's in the parliamentary process now having gone through a select committee. It reinforced the highly centralised Police we have now. Absolutely no local accountability whatsoever. As it says in the very begining of the Bill it is "an instrument of the Crown" and lists its predecessors back to the armed hooligans who ethnically cleansed the outer districts of their Maori inhabitants and enforced martial law over their lands. Many of whom were later given that land by the Crown. So that's what we're up against here. They're proud of their long history.
So it was heartening to see calls the other day for them - if not to be instruments of the community - then at least to be instruments of the Crown that are supervised and held accountable in some way to local representatives. I'm not sure about the Mayor of Invercargill's ideas of going the whole hog and directly electing the Police Chief however:
He supported New Zealand following the American system of having an elected chief of police in each city, he told the Southland Times.
The chief would be voted in on his policies, which could include a "no gangs" policy.
You get some idiots when that happens. And we've got our own idiots like Laws trying to convince us that using the army is a good policing idea.
They have mixed government appointed/democratically elected District Health Boards, they used to have Education Boards, they could have District Police Boards too. We operate very similarly to Britain in many aspects, but certainly not in our policing. In the England and Wales:
The territorial forces use the boundaries of the local government areas [...] These forces provide the majority of policing services to the public of England and Wales. These forces are known as "Home Office police forces" due to the Acts of Parliament that established them. It should be noted, that despite the implication of the term, all police forces are independent, with operational control resting solely with the Chief Constable of each force (or the Commissioner with regard to the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police), with oversight from a Police Authority for each force. [W]
But of course, NZ isn't based on England and Wales, it's based on Ireland and a unitary colonial force. In the UK the Police Authorities are a mix of Home Office appointees, magistrates and local authority members.
The NZ police, like so many other police organisations, take a lot of cues from London it seems:
29 September 1829: The Metropolitan Police was founded. It was depersonalised, bureaucratic and hierarchical, with the new police constables instructed to prevent crime and pursue offenders. However, in contrast to the military gendarmerie forces of continental Europe, the British police, partly to counter public fears and objections concerning armed enforcers, were clearly civilian and their armament was initially limited to the truncheon. Uniform was blue, resembling the navy rather than the red of the army, who had policed with firearms and a heavy-handedness which had long caused public consternation. A fear of spy systems and political control also kept 'plain clothes' and even detective work to a minimum. The force was independent of the local government; through its Commissioner, it was responsible direct to the Home Office. The new constables were nicknamed 'peelers' or 'bobbies' after the Home Secretary, Robert Peel. [W]