The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that, in general, Police conducted a fair and thorough investigation into a complaint against Detective Inspector Kevin Burke (DI Burke). While there were some practical failings, these did not compromise the integrity of the investigation.
In April 2017, Ms X made allegations of historic sexual offending against DI Burke. Police commenced a criminal investigation. Police also investigated a complaint made by a second alleged victim, Ms Y. In February 2019, DI Burke stood trial in the Auckland High Court and was acquitted of all charges.
During the criminal investigation, Ms X and her support person developed concerns about the thoroughness and integrity of the investigation, and the conduct of the investigating officers.
The Authority found that the investigation was fundamentally sound, but Ms X's expectations were not always adequately managed. There were instances when officers failed to provide her with detailed information, such as information about the charges to be laid against DI Burke.
Police did not properly appreciate that Ms X already had a support person of her choice, and when this became apparent, one officer attempted to dissuade Ms X from using this person. Police incorrectly believed that Ms X had agreed for a national advocate to be her support person, and shared information about the investigation's progress with this person, without Ms X's consent.
The Authority also investigated Ms X's concern that Police failed to contact the second alleged victim, Ms Y, in a timely manner. The Authority is satisfied that this failure was due to a genuine breakdown of communication, and not a deliberate attempt to protect DI Burke.
The Authority acknowledges that this investigation was complex, sensitive and resource-intensive. In order to avoid a conflict of interest, the investigation team was small and located in different parts of the country. This added a layer of complexity to team communication and the execution of investigation tasks.
However, when things went wrong, or when Ms X was not satisfied with the service she was receiving, Police put considerable effort into recovering the relationship and rebuilding her trust.
Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty said:
"This investigation represented a significant challenge for Police, as above all it required the complainants and public to accept that Police could investigate one of their own without fear or favour. In this context, it is understandable that Ms X wanted assurance that her complaint was being investigated properly.
Not every decision or action taken by the investigating officers was correct, but the officers that the Authority spoke to were willing to reflect on their performance with a critical eye.
Most importantly, however, the overall investigation was robust. The Authority is satisfied that Ms X received an adequate level of service."