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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Police miss opportunity to resolve tow company recovery matter proactively

9 June 2020

The Authority oversaw an investigation into a complaint about Police action relating to a tow company recovery incident in the Waikato. The complaint was that the driver was threatened, and physically handled by Police; Police should have approached the driver and dealt with the situation at the outset; and Police had no authority to influence the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) to cancel a permit issued by NZTA.

The Police investigation was hampered because the tow company driver refused to make a statement. Police found that the complaints were not upheld.

The Authority agreed that the tow company driver was not physically handled by Police but that he was threatened with arrest if he did not comply with a lawful request under the Land Transport Act. The driver did comply with the request.

The Authority's view was that Police should have been proactive in engaging with the tow operator. If they had engaged at the earliest opportunity, then the issues about the legality of the proposed tow would have been resolved more easily.

The Authority also found that Police were entitled to contact NZTA to discuss the permit and notes that Police do have an influence in these matters. However, any information imparted to NZTA should be accurate and fair.

Because the tow itself has been the subject of enforcement action by police and is awaiting trial in the District Court, the Authority has made no finding about its legality.

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