Friday, July 30, 2010

"No Crime In Gisborne, It's Offical - Updates

25 July 2010 (scroll down for updates)

Remember how the Palmerston North Wikipedia page was censored to remove references to crime because it making overseas investors and professionals shy away from moving to the town?;  and of how gangs are now euphemistically  called “groups” in some news reports?;  and how no police statistics are kept on racially motivated crimes in New Zealand? 

Well now the police in Gisborne want to restrict the information released to the media and give the people in the town the warm and fuzzies.

The question is Is ignorance bliss, or are there other motives for clamming-up about the true extent and nature of crime in Gisborne? It smacks of censorship to us and history has proved that has never been a good thing. Surely it is preferable to create a safer, low crime community rather than mislead people into thinking that it is?

Don’t the public have a right to know what is going on in their own town and the actions their public servants are taking to control that crime?

What if similar decisions were taken elsewhere in the country? (it’s already been happening in Rotorua) you can kiss goodbye to a free press in New Zealand and say hello to a propaganda mouthpiece, covering nothing but cake sales and ‘feel good’ stories.

From the Gisborne Herald’s website:

Crime? What crime?

Christine McCafferty 24 July 2010
GISBORNE police have decided to restrict the information on crime they provide to media in a move to “make the community feel safer”.
Up until now, The Gisborne Herald has been given detailed reports of crimes attended by police, including burglaries, domestic violence and the arrests that make up our daily “Police briefs”.
But earlier this week area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said comprehensive information would no longer be provided. He saw no benefit in “reporting all and sundry”…read the whole article here
Related NZ State v. NZ Press stories:

Police Minister infuriated at newspaper’s test of security at Super 14s match – reporters testing security at a rugby match weren’t pretending to be terrorists.

It’s official: Politicians can’t take a joke - “MPs may make fools of themselves from time to time but they want to ban others from doing it. Satire, ridicule and denigration of MPs using any television footage shot from parliamentary galleries is to be banned under rules proposed by the standing orders committee. The move on freedom of expression is not the only controversy the rules have caused. They also create anomalies between what television cameras can show and what newspapers photographers are allowed to show, giving television the advantage…”

Update 1.  29 July 2010

Gisborne police have tried to defend their new “media policy”. You can read their response in this article which appeared on Stuff.

In it we learn of two very interesting pieces of information:

1. The Gisborne Herald was one of the last daily newspapers in the country to receive detailed lists from the police, according to Gisborne area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama; as repeated on Stuff. (No wonder our figures on reported armed robberies doesn’t tally-up with the official statistics)
So many newspapers went quietly into that goodnight! only the Gisborne Herald  was prepared to take a stand and we appreciate why now – that was the last stand of NZ’s free press.

2. That Police Minister, Judith Collins, thought that media reports on police conduct and other issues had contributed to a lack of respect for police. Which makes the police’s decision to withhold what it chooses from the media look even more questionable.

The Media Freedom Committee had their say on the issue too. We get the impression that this has been brewing under the surface for a while and now was an ideal opportunity to remove the cover on the whole sorry mess. You can read their chairman’s comments on Voxy, but this one comment from him struck us as odd:
“The Media Freedom Committee welcomes an assurance from Police National Headquarters that the Gisborne policy is a one-off and is not about to spread to other parts of the country.”
Which is rather different to what was said by the Gisborne Area Commander in the Stuff article. i.e. that Gisborne was one of the last daily newspapers to receive detailed lists.

Update 2.  30 July 2010

The Sensible Sentencing Trust released a statement today saying that police held in their own hands the solution to stopping attacks on officers, following matters raised by the Police Minister at yesterday’s press conference.

Firstly, police conduct should be beyond reproach and secondly, that police should be helping families to intervene in illicit drug use before that person gets hurt – specifically mentioning the failure of the  “P Plan” to deal effectively with methamphetamine demand in the community. Read the full statement on

Read also: “Is New Zealand moving toward a police state by default?”

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