Lack Of Confidence In Police Over Rape Handling Justified

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The poor communication and subsequent apology by police over the dreadful handling of the Roastbusters incident isn’t a one-off example of a communication breakdown and police ineptitude – this sort of thing happens frequently and of course undermines the confidence of the public – but the real reason the public confidence is low isn’t due to these gaffes alone. There are deeper issues that start with survivors feeling disincentivised about approaching police and culminate in sickeningly low conviction rates.

The recent injection of funds offered to survivor services was a sign the government is listening. After National spent the last few years stripping back rape crisis funding, returning it to people was an important and positive act toward restoration of faith. But overall that funding is still geared toward helping people survive rape rather than actual prevention.

One of the most crucial aspects to prevention includes addressing the key issues that originate at the reporting stage. The stats on this will blow your mind. Only 1 out of 99 attacks reported to police result in a conviction.This in itself is blatant evidence of a serious, endemic issue. There is major roadblock to justice going on and it needs to be addressed – that roadblock appears to be the justice system and police. How will public safety be assured if it’s almost impossible to gain a conviction? You see what is most worrying is this information applies to reported incidents alone. According to government estimates only 9% of sexual attacks are even reported; you heard that right, in this country roughly 0.09% of sex offenders are convicted. Is there any wonder sexual violence is so prevalent?

When only 1 out of 99 reported rapes result in a conviction the true lack of public confidence is justified. And proof that people have no confidence lies in the fact that less than 10% even bother to report sexual attacks.

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Radical changes are clearly required and while there are absolutely cultural pressures that prevent rape reporting it seems safe to assume justifiable lack of faith in police and the justice system plays a big role. Correcting this situation would likely be a key action when it comes to rape prevention. I believe the police are people at the end of the day too, and because of this they would surely welcome any opportunity to turn this worrying situation around.

We need to get offenders into programs to stop them from offending. That needs to occur not only through self referral but also through conviction. It is noted that we have low rates of recidivism in New Zealand, so when offenders do actually make it into prison and prevention programs they are unlikely to reoffend and these programs perform well in terms of world standards. It’s time to ask politicians and police, “What are you doing to smooth the way to ensure offenders gain convictions?” “What are you doing to support self-referral by sex offenders in the community?” “What are you doing to ensure that substantially more than 0.09% of sexual attackers are referred to sexual violence prevention programs?”

This issue isn’t resolved. More questions are yet to be answered by the government and police themselves. Remember this is an issue concerning one in six men and one in three women – that means directly or indirectly it effects us all.

33 COMMENTS

  1. The Complaints Authority ‘explanation’ seems a bit weird to me too.
    i.e. to the effect that it was an ISOLATED incident due to SYSTEMIC comms failure ….. both isolated and systemic ????

  2. There is nothing new in the messy way the police handled this case.
    They have many badly managed cases on their hands – the guy who spent 20 yrs in prison for the Rewa rapes, The death of the twins in south auckland, etc. The fact that there is such a low conviction rate is very simple:

    9 out of 10 ‘claimed’ sexual assaults are never reported – cant blame the police for that.
    Of the rest 7 out of 10 never get to court due to lack of any sort of evidence – cant blame the police for that.
    And 1 out the remaining 3 are dismissed by the jury (they are all jury trials) – cant blame the polic for that.

    And I will bet that the only girl involved in the roast busters case who has made a complaint never provided any useful evidence.

    She was 13 at the time of the claimed rape. WHAT THE HELL WERE HER PARENTS DOING LETTING HER OUT PISSED ALL NIGHT? They should be charged with child abuse themselves – afterall the law says you cant leave children under 14 unattended at home – so how come its OK to let them outy at night to pissed and worse.

    • Thank you for so nicely illustrating for me the real reason why people don’t report rape to NZ police. Your attitude is nicely conveyed.

      You are incorrect that under 14’s cannot be left at home alone. The specific piece of legislation clearly states:

      “Every person is liable to a fine not exceeding $2,000 who, being a parent or guardian or a person for the time being having the care of a child under the age of 14 years, leaves that child, without making reasonable provision for the supervision and care of the child, for a time that is unreasonable or under conditions that are unreasonable having regard to all the circumstances.”

      When reasonable provision is made for supervision and care of the child, they can be left home alone for periods of time under the age of 14.

      • Lara,
        I have no wish to argue with you as I’m in agreement with virtually everything you have said, however, your following statement had me confused…
        “When reasonable provision is made for supervision and care of the child, they can be left home alone for periods of time under the age of 14.”
        I would have thought the act of supervising would require a living, breathing supervisor. Perhaps you mean the parents can leave their child in the care of a baby sitter, even if that supervisor is irresponsible.
        Apologies if you think I’m being too pedantic, but it’s important parents know whether their children can be left physically alone or not under the age of fourteen.

        • No worries.

          It seems this is a commonly misunderstood law.

          “Reasonable supervision” can be a neighbor with whom you have an arrangement, or even someone close by. It’s also dependent upon the age and maturity of the child.

          If kids under 14 always had to have an adult with them at all times, how could they go to the park to play with friends? How could they make their way to and from school alone? Some common sense in ensuring they know how to access help if they need it, while allowing kids some room to learn responsibility and to grow up normally.

          My son is 13 and spends hours out and about with his mates in our small community, all together being normal boys. To then say he could not be home alone for any period of time would be completely illogical and the law recognises this.

    • @Barry.

      You obviously have no idea what you are talking about! Proved as follows:

      1: “9 out of 10 ‘claimed’ sexual assaults are never reported”

      I have walked into a police station to report a rape, and I was aggressively spoken to by the 2 policemen there. So I turned around and walked out! I blame the police for this!

      2: “7 out of 10 never get to court”

      The brutality of the police prosecutor often causes the victim to crumble, and can also cause the victim to become too fragile to cope with the court process! I blame the police for this! The police prosecutor and the police for allowing the police prosecutor to attack and bully the victim.

      3: “And 1 out the remaining 3 are dismissed by the jury”

      The law is at fault here, as the evidence required is sperm for dna, and/or an eye witness to the rape/s. I blame the police for this, as they are fully aware of this very major flaw in our law, yet choose to do nothing to correct it!

      4: “And I will bet that the only girl involved in the roast busters case who has made a complaint never provided any useful evidence.”

      You mean no sperm or no eye witness? Oh the silly girl for not rallying around a few witnesses to watch her get raped! Idiot and ignorant you are!

      5: “She was 13 at the time of the claimed rape. WHAT THE HELL WERE HER PARENTS DOING LETTING HER OUT PISSED ALL NIGHT?”

      Maybe the parents thought their daughter was staying over at a friends house for the night, and then when these boys found out, they designed this “get the girl drunk and rape her.” This is the rape culture in NZ! And I blame the police for this, because they are aware of this gross situation but continually choose not to fix it!

      I hope people like you are never given the responsibility of trying to fix these problems.

      Also, and very important here, is to remember that even police officers rape!!!

      Opinion and belief.

      • Oh Lara – Yes the Scandinavian approach is much more lovey/dovey and felly/touchy than we currently have here – but you will – Im sure – have noted that they still require that basic requirement of any legal system – evidence.

        And I pity anyone who has to navigate through the classifications of the various types of sexual assault that they are dreaming up. That will be a lawyers dream in the court – ie: “But victim – you havent been subject to type M assault – you have laid a complaint about type P assault”
        – and as such the accused is heading for the door.

        As I am sure you know – for example – Sweden has the highest reported level of rapes – but the lowest conviction rate – this is for European stats. So much for their fantastic legal system.

        Im afraid it all comes down to a mind set in the victim – no matter where in the world. If the victim cant be bothered or comes with the excuse thats its all too embarrassing or similar excuses – then one is wasting time.
        Instead of people like you saying its all the systems fault – you need to be changing the mind set among women. The need for evidence will never change – and that has to be the number one priority – otherwise the stats will stay the same as they are now.

        • @Barry.

          It is the mindset among men (ones like you) that needs to be changed!

          Your posts ought to come with a trigger warning!

          Opinion and belief.

        • No.

          We need to change the mindset of rapists, not their victims.

          Pretty simple really.

          And we need to stop blaming victims of crime for the actions of criminals.

        • i note barry that not once have you talked about the offender – you know – the ones who commit the crimes

          and this issue is much bigger than who said what wrong to the media.

          The fact that the police had possible offenders bragging online about a crime, and 4 complaints (one official) and still no one bothered to get a search warrant for all digital devices involved is of no concern to you?

          The fact that because the initial searches werent carried out, the alleged offenders basically got a tip off via the media to try and clear their digital devices (forensic tests aside) and destroy possible evidence is of no concern to you?

          thats the big issue – the polices discussions with the media, while terrible, are really a minor issue against that.

          you either really dont get this or your distracting hard out – in an alleged serial rape case thats pretty crappy

      • The law is at fault here, as the evidence required is sperm for dna, and/or an eye witness to the rape/s. I blame the police for this, as they are fully aware of this very major flaw in our law, yet choose to do nothing to correct it!

        I’m curious to see what sort of evidence you think would be sufficient to convict a person of rape.

        In general, (not just in rape cases), when it comes down to one person’s word against another, that falls well within reasonable doubt.

        Are you suggesting that the burden of proof be lowered for rape cases?

        • Well lets see. A good place to start would be to make it the responsibility of the accused rapist to prove that he didnt do it.

          And for the victim of the rape to be treated with loving kindness, rather than be perpetually bullied by the police, and the ‘system’ that allows this bullying!

          Its definitely not working the way it is. So lets try it this way instead – if it doesnt work, then nothing has been lost has it.

          Opinion.

    • @Barry. From one guy to another; stop being a dick and go back and read the story properly.

      Then come back and tell us what you are doing to improve this situation because surely you have a wife/daughter/sister/friend that could potentially be affected by this problem

    • Barry, I wonder if your blame-the-victim attitude would change if it was your daughter? Did you never ever sneak out or pretend you were at a mate’s place and instead head out onto the town? Did you never ever sneak a drink or fag without your parents looking?

      Kids do shit. That’s never an excuse for horrible things to happen to them. Since when did growing up entail justification for others to abuse them????

      • Kids do shit. That’s never an excuse for horrible things to happen to them. Since when did growing up entail justification for others to abuse them????

        That’s not what he said. Nobody is at fault for being the victim of a crime, but it’s still not a good idea to put yourself at risk if you can help it.

        Does NZ’s feminist community have any actually workable suggestions about how to reduce the rate of sexual assault?

        I’d honestly like to see them.

        • @Tom:
          Put yourself at risk?
          Some women in their jarmies, and in their 70s get raped while in the privacy of their own home!

          Being sexually attractive to the rapist, isnt the victims fault ever.

          At the end of the day all the fault belongs to the rapist. There are no circumstances that could possible happen that would ever make it ok for a man to rape a woman or a child, or another man. Absolutely none. The act of rape is when you forcefully have sex with another human being, against their will.
          Sexual violence.

          This problem lies in the pockets of men – no one else!

          Opinion.

        • @tom:

          Why do you ask NZ feminist community?
          Why not ask mothers groups?
          Why not ask all womens groups?

          I reckon we should turn the issue over, and put the onus of ‘proof of innocence’ on the accused, rather than the victim. The way it is for other crimes, and that should start to sort it!
          Also make the victims lawyer, the prosecuting lawyer, freely available, and make the rapist have to pay for their lawyer.

          And change the law to honour the victim rather than the rapist!

          Opinion.

      • to clarify – nothing the victim did should ever be an excuse in these cases.

        people are all to quick to equate making a dangerous choice (eg: being blind drunk in an alley or park at night) with some kind of excuse for why its not completely the offenders fault

        when i was a teen i did tons of really dumb and dangerous stuff – did that mean i deserved to be a victim of crime? Of course it didnt. It might have been a factor that led to me ending up a victim, but the fault in regards to the offense sits only with the offender

      • SHAR72 – Im not blaming the victim at all – for the rape aspect anyway.

        What I do blame the victim for is not reporting it ASAP and not providing evidence when it was available.

        In a society where the cost of court action like this is socialized – ie: the tax payer pays – not the vistim – then its part of the deal that the victim of any crime report it ASAP.

        While woemn keep being told that they are special when it comes to sexual crimes – and they must get councilling and all that shit before they do anything like reporting it – and that their word should be believed without question – then nothing will improve. Thats why the great scandinavian systems are working no better than previous.

  3. For me its more than the police behaviour, its NZ society as a whole and the attitudes prevalently displayed in NZ that stopped me reporting.

    As a child I was too young to know I could report. As a young woman I knew my report would not be taken seriously and I didn’t want to be interrogated right after being raped.

    If I was ever raped again the NZ police would be the one organisation I would actively avoid, in an attempt at self preservation and survival.

    Its the focus on what I was wearing, what I was drinking, my behaviour. In a way that is not focussed on for other crimes.

    If you’ve ever been burgled (I have, a couple of times) the first questions asked of you by those you know are NOT “did you have a security system? did you leave a window open?” nor do they make statements like “well, what did you expect? that was really silly behaviour”. No.

    But with rape? “what were you wearing? were you drinking? what did you expect?” and for someone suffering from shock and stress after being raped this sounds only like you are being blamed. It’s your fault.

    Generally NZers believe victims should bear responsibility for being raped. They call it common sense. When someone is raped (be they female, male or trans) we KNOW this. We know we will be interrogated, disbelieved, and held responsible for a horrible crime someone else has done to us. Not just by police, by many people we know too. So it’s easier to keep quiet and try to heal ourselves.

    I think a big public campaign, along the lines of those in northern Europe, against rape culture, would be a huge start.

    • Its the focus on what I was wearing, what I was drinking, my behaviour. In a way that is not focussed on for other crimes.

      Since the issue is a third party trying to decide whether a jury will accept your claim that you did not give consent, your behaviour is absolutely relevant.

      Since the accused is going to claim that consent was given, and the jury aren’t mind readers, they will need to look at the behaviour of all parties to try to work out what went on.

      Even if current juries make poor decisions based on the evidence they are given, future juries with a better idea of the facts will still need to look at the same evidence, because they aren’t mind readers either.

      • Clothing cannot give consent to sexual activity. It’s irrelevant what any victim was wearing, anytime, anywhere.

        Being drunk is not consent to sexual activity. Being drunk will incapacitate a person so that they cannot give consent.

        Previously having been sexually active does not give consent to further sexual activity. This is why we now recognise that rape is possible within marriage.

        Consent is required, for each and every sexual activity for all parties involved and for the entire duration of that activity.

        If one party is under age they cannot give consent. If one party is drunk they cannot give consent. If one party clearly states no then consent is not given.

        It’s actually not a very difficult concept to comprehend, this idea of consent. But it’s not at the heart of rape and sexual abuse investigations and trials, because of all the bullshit myths we buy into about rape. And that’s what needs to change for our low reporting and conviction rates to change.

    • Your comment is quite constructive in some parts there and I agree with a lot of it.
      To me sex and love sit in a different plane to rape and it’s appalling instances such as these: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2638358/General-Medical-Council-used-security-guards-spy-rape-victims-mother-disciplinary-hearings-toilets.html which lead me to believe rape is nothing to do with sex but about power, taking someone’s power, mauling their psyche and marking them for future attacks because they have left them vulnerable by fuzzing the circuits in their brain.
      Many rapes are accompanied by drugs which leave the victim a souvenir blank in their memory. (It’s called a Micky Finn, No Barry, they don’t take it voluntarily, it can be blown at them & they not even aware of it)
      And when you have experienced some goddamn awful sexual assault, it can take many years for the actual memory to surface, not in double spaced, triplicate, title paged, indexed and numbered shiny reports sponsored by Victim Support, but in gobs of slimy vomit, blood, infection, infestation, beauracratic goose shit and unfillable forms that swim in and out of focus in front of your eyes.
      Rape and abusive power hold hands with war and theft of land.
      It does affects women, men and children.
      To treat a victim of rape as a possible liar is beyond vile.
      When the police ask you what you were wearing, however, it could be to help your memory, as we associate events with what we were wearing, among other things. It is also a way to identify locations, times and participants haunts on photos, cctvs even movies as all criminals leave a signature.
      I would like to see a dedicated protocol for reporting rape just like we have stop drop & roll for earthquakes.

  4. Another thing that this whole sordid matter makes clear is that the Police have to get to grips with the fact that they can’t just do or say what they like with no repercussions. That might work in Russia or China but not here, we expect our Police not just to uphold the law and enforce it, but also to be seen to be doing it and doing it fairly. When asked if they had received any complaints about the Roast Busters their immediate reaction and response was to go into coverup mode. To blame this purely on poor communication is a very weak excuse and this is a primary reason for lack of confidence in them.

    • All this report will do Mike – is for the Police to NOT COMMENT in future. That will solve that problem wont it.

      Attacking them for the fact that they said something is pretty stupid – because like all organizations they will just shut up in future – and we will even be less informed than now.

      Ill bet the person who said they had no complaints will never again make comments like that. The poor bugger didnt even have access to the information – so perhaps hes more stupid than to know that he shouldnt have said anything.

      • Perhaps victims of rape could report their rapes publicly and anonymously on a website called something like: “I’vebeenraped.co nz”.

        It appears to me the ONLY reason there is any kind of investigation going on right now, is because the rapes were publicly outed, and public protest ensued.

        Opinion.

    • @ Mike the Lefty: “That might work in Russia…” Contrary to perceptions about Russia, it doesn’t work there, either.

  5. “…the fact that less than 10% even bother to report sexual attacks.”

    This is very real – some victims are far too young to report sexual attacks, and some cannot even talk yet – then when they grow up, of course there is no evidence (sperm, or an eye witness) of the rape/s! Some victims of rape, and sexual violence are far too traumatised immediately after a rape, and this is not taken into consideration by our laws. Why isn’t it?

    And if you do manage to report the incident with the police, you then face questions from the police prosecutor, and this part of the process is so traumatic for the victim, and depending on the new physical and/or mental state of the victim, cannot proceed past this point! At this point the system fails!

    These police prosecutors need to be pulled into line, and instead of retraumatising the victim they need to go bully the culprit instead. But they don’t do this – they just bully the victim, and the police allow this to happen! Why do the police allow this to happen? This is the really big question!!!! Why???

    Why don’t women make the laws regarding rape?
    And why don’t men man up about this horrendous situation in NZ?
    Why don’t men realise there is something wrong with them?
    Seriously. Why???

    Opinion.

    • @Jenny:

      Great links. So much sexual violence and abuse and assault stuff within the NZ Police.
      No wonder rape victims cannot get through the system to conviction of the rapist!
      Reading through this link there’s a good chance the rapist could be a policeman!!

      Disgusting!

      Opinion and belief.

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