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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Reasonable force but unlawful arrests of young people in Auckland

6 June 2019


The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police did not use excessive force when restraining a young person who, along with three others, had been arrested in Manurewa, Auckland. However, the Authority did identify other concerns, and found three of the four arrests were unlawful.

The arrests of the four young people took place in the early hours of 26 February 2018. Police suspected they had just been in a stolen car, and may have been involved in an earlier attempted burglary.

In the course of detaining one of the young people (Mr X), an officer put Mr X into a headlock and took him to the ground. Mr X complained to the Police about the headlock, and said an officer had also twisted his finger.

The Authority found that Mr X's finger had probably been twisted while two officers were trying to restrain him, but this was likely to have been accidental. It also found that the force used to restrain Mr X was reasonable in the circumstances.

Looking at the situation more broadly, the Authority was concerned that the arresting officer was not sure of the reason why he had arrested the young people. It was also clear that the arresting officer had not turned his mind to the requirements of the Oranga Tamariki Act 1989, which applied to three of the four people arrested (as they were under the age of 17).

The Authority found that, had the arresting officer turned his mind to the reason for the arrests and the law as it relates to young people, three of the four arrests would have been lawful. Chair of the Authority, Judge Colin Doherty, noted that "more proactive communication between [the arresting officer and his supervising sergeant] would have prevented this confusion."

Public Report

Arrests of four young people in Auckland (PDF 511 KB)

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