Police discretion double standards


Top cop: ‘We should have been clearer’ about summer road safety campaign
Police Commissioner Mike Bush has admitted there was some confusion surrounding police’s summer road safety campaign and has acknowledged that police should have been clearer about what speed levels would be enforced.

This comes after the campaign was widely criticised by the public and other agencies, with many calling it ambiguous and confusing.

Today, Mr Bush said he had listened to public feedback on the summer road safety campaign and hoped police would learn from the experience.

It’s strange how the simple issue of Police discretion on the roadside when it is aimed at the middle classes of NZ provokes such a quick response and backdown from the Police isn’t it? Only 14 tickets were issued over the holiday period for drivers driving between 1km and 4km over the speed limit so it’s hardly been a drag net of power abuse, but such is the privilege of those complaining and whining that it is suddenly a story important enough to prompt the Minister to mutter some meaningless words of comfort to the ruffled feathers and egos of those who felt targeted.

That a Minister with the dullness of Woodhouse has been forced to comment speaks volumes about the privilege those complaining.

It’s funny because Police discretion is used when charging people with cannabis offences in this country as well and on that front if you are young, brown or poor that discretion always seems focused on charging.


It seems that when National voters feel targeted by Police discretion over speeding, they can get an immediate apology from the Police Commissioner and sweet nothings from the Minister, when the young, brown or poor get targeted by Police discretion over cannabis – that’s business as usual.

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  1. “Only 14 tickets were issued over the holiday period”

    which raises the question of how its even linked to the road toll to begin with

    ie: not disputiung that speeding = a big bloody mess – more the way the media reacted by instantly linking the rise to the road toll to the mixed messaging of speeding tolerance.

    When the story first came to light both me and my partner both went 1) cheaper petrol 2) its bloody sunny out and 3) everyones on holiday.

  2. The whole fiasco is a mystery to me. There’s a bunch of reactionary MPs who’ve become very vocal and virtually blamed the cops for the road deaths. At the risk of sounding callous, the variation in the number of road deaths from last summer holiday to this is actually statistically insignificant. We are talking about something like 4 (?) deaths versus 17 and while each of those is a tragedy for the families involved, as a proportion of total kilometers per vehicle per journey it is statistically not worth making the comparison.
    The police error was to create the impression that speed control was paramount but even their own public appeals throughout the year make it clear they try to target a number of factors. Unfortunately those other factors were not highlighted over summer.
    Maybe MPs Marks and Woodhouse or their family members have received speeding tickets lately and hence their vigorous assault on the police campaign, but their energy would be better spent offering something constructive to the discussion rather than the pointless rage and histrionics that serve no purpose. It’s another excellent example of just how petty-minded we can be in this country.

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