The New Zealand Police Patrol And Investigation Criminology Essay

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Albert Einstein is quoted historically as saying, every kind of peaceful cooperation among men is primarily based on mutual trust and only secondarily on institutions such as courts of justice and police. Whether primarily or secondarily, policing encompasses distinctive activities aimed at achieving social order. Activities that are specific to policing include the creation of systems of surveillance together with the threat of sanctions for discovered deviance. The most familiar of the policing surveillance system is of course, regular uniform patrol of public spaces in addition to investigation of reported, discovered and probable occurrences of crime and disorder. This paper begins by giving a brief geographical description of the country of New Zealand, followed by a short overview of their crime statistics and a look at the history and organizational structure of the police service. The key focus of this paper however, is a comprehensive description of the patrol and investigative operations of the New Zealand Police.

New Zealand is an island country in the southwest Pacific Ocean. It lies about 1,000 miles southeast of Australia. New Zealand consists of two main islands and a number of smaller islands. The country belongs to a large island group called Polynesia. Wellington is the capital of New Zealand and Auckland is its largest city. The country is a crown colony of Britain and its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented locally by a governor general. At the end of 2010, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of State website, New Zealand's population was 4.42 million.

The U.S. Department of State reported that "crime rates in New Zealand are low and have decreased over the past years". New Zealand's national annual recorded offences statistics show that there was a total recorded incidents of crime for the year 2010 of 426,345. Over 30% (136,932) of the reported crime were theft and related offences while homicide and related offences recorded 97 incidents of which 46 were murders. These figures represent a 23.6 % decrease in the number of incidents recorded for 2009. The rate of resolution of cases is also high as 91 of the 97 reported homicide cases (93.8%) were resolved by the end of the year. From these statistics, one can suggest that the work of patrol officers is of utmost importance in any attempt at a continued reduction the incidences of crime, specifically theft and related offences which is their greatest area of concern. A conclusion can also be drawn that the method of criminal investigation used in New Zealand is highly effective since their resolution rate is enviably high.

New Zealand's first national, civil, police force was established in 1886. It was modeled on the British system except that New Zealand developed a national service while Britain is divided into autonomous constabularies. The New Zealand Police Act of 1958, changed the name of the police force in that it dropped the word 'force' and the service has since been known as the New Zealand Police which is said to better reflect its operating practices and philosophy of 'minimum force' and 'policing by consent'( McLintock, 1966).

According to the New Zealand Police official website, the police commissioner, appointed by the governor general, is the chief executive of the police service and reports to the Minister of Police. However, the commissioner "acts independently in carrying out law enforcement decisions". A board of commissioners, consisting of the police commissioner and two deputy commissioners, is responsible for high-level leadership and makes decisions on police strategy, governance, and performance management. The present Police Commissioner is Mr. Peter Marshall, who began his three year tenure in April 2011.

The New Zealand Police are organized into twelve districts which are managed from the Police National Headquarters in Wellington. These twelve districts, namely Northland, Waitemata, Auckland City, Manukau Counties, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Eastern, Central, Wellington, Tasman, Canterbury and Southern are each headed by a district commander. There are three operational branches: general duties, which include patrols and routine services; traffic safety, which include highway patrols; and criminal investigations.

The strength of the entire New Zealand Police is presently over 10,500. The police's official website, state that their beat and patrol staff, which employs over 7000 of the total police strength, are the visible face of policing in New Zealand. They have the most diverse role among all arms of the police service. This most important role is divided between proactive policing, where officers patrol to detect and prevent crime, and responding to calls for service. In describing the patrol function Lyman (2010) theorized that patrol officers "are the most valuable people in the police department". He went on to further describe them as the "backbone" of the police organization. In stating the importance of their beat and patrol staff, the New Zealand Police has testified to the validity of Lyman's view.

The New Zealand police can claim to be among the few left in the world that are not openly armed. While weapons are kept hidden in their cars, the police are instructed to keep arms strictly away from public view (Grunwell, 2004). The carrying of guns in a holster on the hip is therefore not routine for New Zealand Police officers regardless of the patrol function they are involved in.

The New Zealand Police employ a Criminal Investigation Branch that is responsible for specialized investigative functions which will be examined later in this paper, however, their beat and patrol officers are also routinely involved in various aspects of investigation. Their official police website, lists investigation among their duties which include preventing street disorder, attending to family violence incidents, policing major sporting and other public events and responding to a myriad of other incidents and calls for help as some of the major tasks of the beat and patrol officers. This wide span of duties of the patrol officer is not something that is native to New Zealand only but can be described as a 'normal' feature of patrol operations in most countries. Lyman (2010) sums up this by saying that patrol officers are typically required to wear many "hats". He went on to state that they are expected to "be all things to all people".

The New Zealand Police have three Police Communications Centres located in its most populous cities Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Calls to these centres are categorized according to their nature. There are the #111 emergency calls which require urgent immediate attention, the non-emergency or 'general calls which do not require immediate attention and the #555 calls for reporting traffic issues. The police's website states that the emergency service works in this way; the Police Communicator answers the call and gathers the information needed to send the police to the location. The Communicator passes the information electronically to the Dispatcher who uses radio to contact whichever patrol unit is closest to the incident so that they can handle the incident. The New Zealand Ministry of Justice website noted that the manner in which these calls are categorized influences the way that their patrol officers are deployed.

The New Zealand beat and patrol staff is subdivided into different types of patrols. Foot patrol was the earliest and is the longest surviving method of patrol. The New Zealand Police History website's article on the life of a bobby in Wellington back in the late 1800s gave a brief description as to the duties of the earliest foot patrol officers. The article stated;

Constables walked up and down their beat at a steady 2 ½ miles per hour, so that anyone requiring assistance might meet a policeman by standing in the same spot for a period of time. If the bobby needed immediate help he could sound his whistle, but this was done seldom as possible and always reported to their sergeant afterwards.

The bobby on the beat was also expected to know all the residents and businesses on his beat. It can be concluded from this that community policing initiatives were always at the heart of the patrol function and is integral to their maintenance of law and order.

Today, foot patrols in New Zealand are still linked to improved community perceptions of safety and reassurance. However, according to the police's website, the beat officers no longer spend as much time on foot patrols since the police do not believe that random foot patrols is an efficient use of police resources. Evidence was not found as to what basis was used to draw that conclusion. However, this position seemed to mirror the observations of an Edmonton, Alberta study which saw that "foot constables handled considerably fewer calls than motorized officers" (Lyman, 2010). The foot patrols used in New Zealand today is almost strictly directed in nature since they target locations and times where and when offences are more likely to occur. The official police website reports have indicated that this type of patrol strategy have been shown to be more effective than random patrols. It has also reported that undertaking foot patrols in 'hot' locations provide a visible police presence that can deter offending.

Another type of patrol used in New Zealand is bicycle patrols. The New Zealand police first bought bicycles in the mid-1890s (Petty, 2001). This initiative declined with the advent of motorized transport. However, at least one police district, the Canterbury Police, re-launched bicycle patrols in October 2009, as a part of their "high visibility" policing strategy. Bicycle patrol is classified as a non-traditional method of police patrol operations (Lyman, 2010). The benefits derived from this kind of patrol, according to a New Zealand Police News Centre media release, are numerous. It include higher visibility as a result of having a greater pace as opposed to the slower method of foot patrols, greater maneuverability and speed in congested road traffic when responding to tasks and incidents. It also gives the police increased contact with the citizenry when compared to mobile patrol officers.

According to Ten One, The New Zealand Police online magazine, in October 2004, the Royal New Zealand Police College established a motorcycle trainer at the college to equip officers with necessary motorcycle skills. At that time there were 21 existing motorcycles within the policing districts. These motorcycles are also used for patrol purposes within the various districts.

Mobile patrol however is the most widely used method of patrol. Mobile police officers conduct routine patrol functions throughout the country. These officers are rostered to provide 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week service. Mobile police officers are also the officers most involved in aggressive patrol strategies. The most publicized of those strategies in recent times according to Ten One, the New Zealand Police online magazine, was named Operation Hammer which was a 10-week program in April 2007 aimed at reducing the incidence of burglary in the Christchurch area. At the end of 2000, the New Zealand police formed a special Highway Patrol unit. The Highway patrol staff is based almost exclusively on the state highways. Their aim according to the police official website is "to help reduce road trauma and make their roads safer by providing a highly-visible dedicated police presence". Having a higher presence on the roads gives the public a sense of confidence that the police are not only out there but are taking an active interest in their safety. The increased presence can also act as a deterrent to those who wish to defy the road laws.

Certain members of the public are also actively involved in the patrol function within their neighbourhoods and cities. The Community Patrols of New Zealand website, while elaborating on the role of the community patrol groups, said that there are a large number of volunteers who put in a number of hours every month to assist the police with the safety and security of their community. These community patrols, operate widely throughout New Zealand, conducting both mobile and foot patrols in most cities and many towns. The community patrollers are selected and screened by the police and work closely with a local police officer assigned to act as a liaison officer. This confirms that community policing continue to be a strong and fundamental part of the crime suppression and prevention measures used in New Zealand.

The other part of police operations in New Zealand to be described in this essay is investigations. The New Zealand police have its Criminal Investigation Branch (CIB) which according to their website, "is dedicated to investigating and solving serious crime and targeting organized crime and recidivist criminals". The CIB has existed since the civil police was formed in 1886. Detectives who work in the CIB are posted at stations around the country. These detectives, like their counterparts in most other countries, are persons who started out as patrol officers and later ascended to the position of detective, a role in which an officer is viewed as a "premier crime fighter" (Lyman, 2010). The job of New Zealand's detectives according to the police official website, include "investigating incidences of homicide, aggravated violence, sexual offending, drug offences, and fraud".

The official police website, further explained some of the functions of the detectives in carrying out investigations. They are required to interrogate witnesses and gather physical evidence in order to build a case that leads to the identification of the perpetrator. Following this, the Crown Solicitor initiates prosecution proceedings against the accused and the detective works with the witnesses and forensic specialist in presenting a solid case to the judge. The detective is also responsible for the arrangement of witnesses to give evidence along with their own testimony.

The New Zealand Police also has an investigative Undercover Programme within the CIB. The police's website stated briefly that undercover police officers are sometimes deployed to detect serious criminal offenses often gang-related. They assume another identity and go into the field for weeks or months until they have gathered enough information to make arrests then the undercover operation is terminated. Therefore it can be ascertained that undercover investigators are involved in both light and deep cover covert operations.

Visible differences can be noted between a beat and patrol officer and a detective. While patrol officers are for the most part unarmed, the CIB officers have access to and almost always carry a firearm. Detectives operate in squads depending on where the specific crimes fall but mostly they operate in pairs (Lockyer, 2010). Patrol officers are also easily identifiable by their uniforms whereas detectives are not uniformed.

The key purpose of this essay has been providing a descriptive account of the patrol and investigative operations of the police in New Zealand. This crown colony of Britain has a fairly low crime rate although the rate of theft and related incidences are areas of concern. Beat and patrol officers have been acknowledged as the most important part of the police service. These unarmed officers perform foot, bicycle, motorcycle, and mobile patrols throughout the islands. Foot patrols are mostly of a directed nature while the other types are preventative. Well organized Police Communication centres are always standing by to respond to the citizen's calls for help. Mobile patrols are also involved in aggressive patrol operations that target specific crime issues. Community involvement in the security of their neighbourhoods and towns is high and a selected number of citizens are also involved in mobile and foot patrols. The New Zealand Police has a highly effective Criminal Investigative Branch (CIB) dedicated to investigating homicide, aggravated assault, drug offences and fraud. Within the CIB, there is also an undercover programme conducting both light and deep cover covert investigations. Overall, the New Zealand Police are well organized in both their patrol and investigation function.