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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Complaint of unlawful search and detention

In August 2017, Police carried out a search for drugs at a home in Mangere, Auckland. During the search other items of interest were discovered. This changed the nature of the search.

A resident of the address complained to the Authority that:

• the search was unlawful;

• her partner was arrested unlawfully;

• occupants of the address were held there for an unreasonably long time during the search; and

• Police took property from the address but did not provide a list of seized property.

Police conducted an investigation, which the Authority oversaw and reviewed.

In the course of the investigation, Police explained to the complainant the reasons for the search, the arrest of her partner and for holding people during the search. She was satisfied that these matters were resolved. Her complaint that Police did not provide an itemised list of property seized during the search was upheld. Police apologised and addressed this with the officers concerned.

However, the Authority still had concerns that the search was conducted without a search warrant and about the length of time the occupants were held at the address. Police re-examined these matters and provided the Authority with their investigation report.

The further Police investigation found that officers acted reasonably in carrying out the search without a warrant. Also, while the people at the address during the search were held for a long time (around four hours), this was a result of the changing nature of Police enquiries as the search revealed new evidence linked to other offending. Police gave consideration to the rights and needs of the detainees during this time.

Having reviewed this further report, the Authority is satisfied that the warrantless search and the detention of occupants of the address were reasonable in the circumstances.

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