It’s a core component of officer training and an ideal that they readily aspire to. It also links to the nine principles developed by British politician Sir Robert Peel, credited with establishing the modern police force on which ours is modelled.
Successful policing is only possible with the mandate of the people and that only occurs if police are trusted and impartial, and use physical force only as a last option.
Officers on duty are mindful of these basic principles, and although policing has changed over time to adapt to our increasingly multicultural society, trust and confidence remain pillars of its success.
Peel’s ninth principle refers to “the absence of crime and disorder, not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with it”. In other words, quality investigation that gets on and does the job.
We have recently had examples of the positive impact that quality investigations have on public trust and confidence.
The timely arrest of a suspect in the killing of British backpacker Grace Millane is one of the best examples in many years, not just within New Zealand but internationally.
The officers who worked on that case, intelligently and relentlessly, have been duly acknowledged.
Another standout example is the refusal of a Far North officer to close a rape case back in 2003, having promised the victim he would persevere. Fifteen years later, DNA from a new indecent assault was a match to DNA recovered in that cold case, leading to the perpetrator finally being convicted and jailed. The officer acknowledged the help of the community and, in turn, public accolades acknowledged his resolve.
We know from public feedback that our communities want officers to be a visible presence. The promised 1800 new sworn officers and 485 Police employees will do much to meet that expectation, providing the most positive opportunity in years for Police to build on one of its key performance measures.
One place where it is obviously needed is within Auckland’s Māngere Bridge community. Last month, 700 residents attended a public meeting to demand more from police and their community leaders after years of antisocial partying and disorder in the area had culminated with a shooting.
Residents have had enough, having already complained bitterly over the years about hundreds of incidents of noise, fighting and intimidation.
I have no doubt that with increased resources Police will deliver to their communities, including Māngere Bridge.
I recently spent a day at the Police College going through the recruit training programme and meeting members of Wing 325. It was clear to me that this next generation of officers, who will soon be on the beat, has the competence to join their colleagues throughout the country and to genuinely build the trust and confidence of all New Zealanders.