Judith Collins makes no sense on the dodgy police stats issue

Following on from my post yesterday regarding police staff “recoding” burglary offending in Counties Manukau south (“Trust NZ Police crime stats? Sure can’t“), Judith Collins has weighed into the debate as acting Police Minister, while Anne Tolley is overseas.

Ms Collins’ reported comments make for strange reading.

Firstly, she’s unimpressed with Jacinda Ardern commenting on the issue:

“I was really disgusted by Jacinda Ardern’s comments in the media. The fact that it’s been sitting around for two years, and the Opposition’s only just got on to it and been rarking it up right before an election tells me that it’s politically motivated.”

It’s disgusting that opposition MPs do their democratic duty and hold the Government to account? Or the opposition is allowed to hold the Government to account, but not in an election year? (Never mind that Ms Ardern says that the first she’d heard about the issue was when the NZ Herald contacted her on Saturday.)

Secondly, with regard to what she knew, when she knew and who she told, she says:

She said she had been told “something about the stats” possibly just after she had finished up as police minister at the end of 2011.

“I’d just heard at some stage, and I don’t know when, and I can’t tell you in what capacity. But I knew that something was wrong with something to do with the statistics.”

She did not pass it on to the police minister because she “didn’t have details”. She did not seek further details “because it was very historical”.

This doesn’t make sense. The reviews conducted by police were for the period 2009 to 2012. Five police officers were sanctioned, with the finger of blame appearing to point most heavily to then-area commander Gary Hill. Mr Hill didn’t start in that role until February 2010.

The Herald reports into this issue haven’t yet made it clear exactly when the suspicious recoding of burglary offending began or ended, but if it began with Gary Hill’s arrival as area commander and his declaration that cutting burglary statistics was his priority, then it had begun less than two years before Judith Collins heard about it in late 2011. That’s hardly “very historical”.

Further, why, as a former Police Minister, would Collins not have tapped the current Police Minister on the shoulder and said, “By the way, I’ve heard something’s wrong with the crime stats. You might want to ask some questions.”?

And what was Ms Collins told back in late 2011? Just “There’s something wrong the crime stats”? She says she “didn’t have details”, but did she not ask her source, “Um, so what is wrong with the stats?” She simply said, “That’s nice” and wandered off, without any further questions?

The last word can go to Jacinda Adern, who told the Herald:

“Of course we are not implying this is something that every police officer has engaged in. That would be totally unfair. But we think it is important to maintain public confidence in police record-keeping, via the minister demonstrating that this is not a more widespread problem, and I think that is an entirely reasonable request.”

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