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IPCA investigation into Police response to Farzana Yaqubi's online report prior to her murder

18 April 2024 

The Independent Police Conduct Authority have completed their independent investigation into how Police responded to Ms Farzana Yaqubi’s online reports that a man was threatening, stalking, and harassing her. On 19 December 2022, almost eight weeks after first reporting the matter to Police, the man murdered Ms Yaqubi. At the time of her death, Ms Yaqubi’s complaint file was awaiting investigation.

In order to respect Ms Yaqubi’s family’s privacy, the Authority has decided not to publish its full report.

During their investigation, the Authority thoroughly reviewed the processes followed by Police and analysed the decision-making and actions of the members of Police who dealt with Ms Yaqubi’s file.

Ms Yaqubi, a 21-year-old, Muslim law student in Auckland, first made a 105 online report to Police on 25 October 2022. She provided screenshots of messages the man was sending her, including one where he threatened to throw acid on her face. She also provided Police with other information which was sufficient for Police to be able to identify the man. Ms Yaqubi’s file sat inactive for six weeks while Police waited for her to come to the Police station and provide a formal statement. On 3 December, Ms Yaqubi updated her online report, telling Police the situation had escalated and that she was extremely fearful the man may pose a threat to her life. On 6 December, Ms Yaqubi went to Henderson Police Station and gave a formal statement to Police, outlining further significant matters. She was told the file would be forwarded to another station near to where she had told Police the man may be living. At the time of her death, the matter had not been progressed any further.

The Authority found the Police response to be inadequate. Key findings include:

  • the initial assessment matrix Police use to assess allegations of stalking to determine whether there will be further investigation is not fit-for purpose as it does not adequately take into account all lines of enquiry, and, critically, the risk posed to victims such as Ms Yaqubi;
  • Police did not adequately take into account cultural and religious factors which influenced how Ms Yaqubi engaged with Police, nor did they provide her with appropriate support;
  • Police failed to ensure significant matters raised in Ms Yaqubi’s formal statement were immediately addressed; and
  • Police failed to link Ms Yaqubi’s file and the file of another young girl who was also being threatened by the same man, thereby missing an opportunity to gain a fuller picture of the extent of his actions.

Police have agreed to review their initial assessment matrix, and they have also agreed to improve training and resources to ensure all staff dealing with files clearly understand what may constitute a hate crime.

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