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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Review of detention of family following searches in Napier

18 November 2020

The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into an allegation that Police unlawfully detained the occupants of a vehicle for the purpose of a search. We found that although their initial detention was lawful, the prolonged detention was unlawful.

On 5 September 2018, Police received information that shots had been fired at an address in Napier. Armed Police cordons were put in place and Armed Offenders Squad (AOS) were deployed.

A vehicle was stopped and searched, just outside the Police cordon, after being seen to leave the address. The occupants of the vehicle were detained whilst the search took place. The Authority agreed with Police that the reason for the search and detention was lawful.

Following the search of the vehicle, the address was searched by AOS and the occupants of the vehicle were detained until this was completed. Section 118(1) of the Search and Surveillance Act 2012 allows Police to detain someone who is at the place of the search at the commencement of the search, or, arrives at the place while the search is carried out. Neither applied in this instance, therefore, the Authority found that the detention of the family for the duration of the search of the address was unlawful.

Police were willing to discuss and apologise to the family, however, the complainant failed to engage with Police throughout the investigation process.

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