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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Failure to investigate theft of a car in Canterbury District

13 August 2019

The Authority received a complaint from a man who said Police had failed to investigate the theft of his car, despite the availability of CCTV evidence from a nearby business. Police later asked the business for the footage, but due to the time that had elapsed it was no longer available. There were no other lines of inquiry, so Police were unable to take further action in relation to the theft of the man's car.

During inquiries into the matter it was found that the Police File Management Centre (FMC) that initially reviewed the man's report sent him a letter asking him to obtain the CCTV footage himself, and that they inactivated the file pending receipt of this. Police National Headquarters agreed that, though this was a templated letter available to FMCs nationwide, the request contained within it was inappropriate in the circumstances. This is because in most cases a victim of crime would be unable to obtain footage from an owner of a private CCTV camera; and in any case, it is the job of Police to obtain this evidence. All Police districts were reminded that this letter template was only appropriate for use in cases involving corporate victims (such as supermarkets and service stations) who had their own CCTV cameras.

Police in Canterbury District apologised to the man and assured the Authority that they would no longer make such requests.

Police National Headquarters assured the Authority that all letter templates linked to their national database, including this one, are currently subject to an external review so that necessary improvements can be made.

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