Deaths in Police Custody

Ti Lamusse made this Official Information request to New Zealand Police

The request was successful.

From: Ti Lamusse

Dear New Zealand Police,

I am a New Zealand citizen and I am interested in the number of deaths in police custody.

My requests are as follows:
1) Please provide the total number of people who have died in police custody broken down by year since 1991, or even further back if records permit
2) Please break down this data according to the ethnicity of the deceased person
3) Please break down this data according to the gender of the deceased person
4) Please break down this data for cause of death of the deceased person
5) Please provide the total number of people who have died from suicide in police custody broken down by year since 1991, or even further back if records permit

Yours faithfully,

Ti Lamusse

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From: SEDGWICK, Alexandria
New Zealand Police


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Dear Ti

 

On behalf of the Commissioner, I acknowledge your request of 18 October
2016. You asked:

1.     Please provide the total number of people who have died in police
custody broken down by year since 1991, or even further back if records
permit

2.     Please break down this data according to the ethnicity of the
deceased person

3.     Please break down this data according to the gender of the deceased
person

4.     Please break down this data for cause of death of the deceased
person

5.     Please provide the total number of people who have died from
suicide in police custody broken down by year since 1991, or even further
back if records permit

 

Your request is being actioned and you will be responded to in accordance
with the provisions of the Official Information Act 1982.

 

Kind regards

Ali

 

 

 

[1]http://nzpintranet/resources/Secure%20Im... Ali Sedgwick
Ministerial Services Advisor |
Ministerial Services | New Zealand
Police
E:
 [2][email address
Police National Headquarters, 180
Molesworth Street, Thorndon, PO Box
3017, Wellington 6011
[3]www.police.govt.nz

 

===============================================================

WARNING

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addressee only and may contain privileged information. It may also be
subject to the provisions of section 50 of the Policing Act 2008, which
creates an offence to have unlawful possession of Police property. If you
are not the intended recipient of this message or have received this
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From: MCMAHON, Teresa
New Zealand Police

Dear Ti Lamusse

 

I refer to your request for the following information:

1) Please provide the total number of people who have died in police
custody broken down by year since 1991, or even further back if records
permit
2) Please break down this data according to the ethnicity of the deceased
person
3) Please break down this data according to the gender of the deceased
person
4) Please break down this data for cause of death of the deceased person
5) Please provide the total number of people who have died from suicide in
police custody broken down by year since 1991, or even further back if
records permit

 

 

I have been asked to notify you that Police requires an extension of time
in which to respond to your request, pursuant to section 15A(1) of the
Official Information Act 1982, because the request necessitates a search
through a large quantity of information and consultations such that a
proper response to the request cannot reasonably be made within the
original time limit. Police requires until 14 December 2016 to provide a
substantive response to your request. 

 

You have the right to complain to the Office of the Ombudsmen about this
extension.

 

Teresa McMahon

Ministerial Services , Police National Headquarters, 180 Molesworth
Street, Wellington, [1]www.police.govt.nz

 

 

 

 

===============================================================

WARNING

The information contained in this email message is intended for the
addressee only and may contain privileged information. It may also be
subject to the provisions of section 50 of the Policing Act 2008, which
creates an offence to have unlawful possession of Police property. If you
are not the intended recipient of this message or have received this
message in error, you must not peruse, use, distribute or copy this
message or any of its contents.

Also note, the views expressed in this message may not necessarily reflect
those of the New Zealand Police. If you have received this message in
error, please email or telephone the sender immediately

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From: Ti Lamusse

Dear MCMAHON, Teresa,

Please be aware that you advised me this request would be completed by the 14th of December. We are now well beyond the legal deadline for responding to my request and the New Zealand police is acting in clear violation of the Official Information Act.

Please rectify this immediately.

Yours sincerely,

Ti Lamusse

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From: MCMAHON, Teresa
New Zealand Police

Dear Ti Lamusse
Your request is at the final stage of review. I apologise for the delay and remind you of your right to complain to the Ombudsman about the delay.

show quoted sections

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Luke left an annotation ()

The statistics you have requested would be of significant public interest, and may be picked up by news media and used by academics.

As an aside, it's interesting they have reminded you that you could complain to the Ombudsman. Although the Ombudsman wouldn't be able to make the Police go any faster with this request, other than a courtesy hurry up.

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From: SEDGWICK, Alexandria
New Zealand Police


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Dear Ti Lamusse

 

I have been asked to send you the attached response to your request of 18
October 2016.

 

Kind regards

 

 

 

[1]http://nzpintranet/resources/Secure%20Im... Ali Sedgwick
Ministerial Services Advisor |
Ministerial Services | New Zealand
Police
E:
 [2][email address
Police National Headquarters, 180
Molesworth Street, Thorndon, PO Box
3017, Wellington 6011
[3]www.police.govt.nz

 

 

===============================================================

WARNING

The information contained in this email message is intended for the
addressee only and may contain privileged information. It may also be
subject to the provisions of section 50 of the Policing Act 2008, which
creates an offence to have unlawful possession of Police property. If you
are not the intended recipient of this message or have received this
message in error, you must not peruse, use, distribute or copy this
message or any of its contents.

Also note, the views expressed in this message may not necessarily reflect
those of the New Zealand Police. If you have received this message in
error, please email or telephone the sender immediately

References

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2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.police.govt.nz/

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From: Ti Lamusse

-Dear SEDGWICK, Alexandria,

Please be aware that you did not provide me with any data between 2009-2014 (inclusive).

Please provide me with that data or advise me if there were no deaths in those years.

In the data you provided, you stated that 32 people died in the time period. You also stated that 15 of those people died due to suicide and (a further?) 4 had medical conditions.

What were the causes of death of the remaining 13-17 people (the total number is unclear because of the wording)? I am not asking for any personal or identifying information so this information cannot be withheld under Section 9(2)(a). Please be advised I requested this information in my original request and that the response was provided with a time-frame in breach of the OIA.

In the event that there were deaths in 2009-2014 (inclusive), please also provide the causes of those deaths.

Yours sincerely,

Ti Lamusse

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From: SEDGWICK, Alexandria
New Zealand Police

Dear Ti

Thank you for your email. I have passed your questions onto the relevant workgroup who will respond to you as soon as possible.

Kind regards

Ali Sedgwick
Ministerial Services Advisor | Ministerial Services | New Zealand Police
E:  [email address
Police National Headquarters, 180 Molesworth Street, Thorndon, PO Box 3017, Wellington 6011 www.police.govt.nz

show quoted sections

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From: MCGROGAN, James
New Zealand Police

Hello Ti Lamusse,

 

NZ Police recently replied to your OIA request regarding deaths in Police
custody. 

 

On 6^th January 2017, you emailed Police requesting additional information
relating to this OIA response.   In response to your request, I can advise
the following:

 

·         Where there are no deaths recorded for particular years, that
means that there were no deaths in custody during those years.  This
includes 1999, 2002, 2006-7, 2009-14.

·         Of those that died, 15 were a result of suicide, and 4 had known
existing medical conditions.

·         The causes of death of the remaining 13 people is withheld under
section 9(2)(a) Official Information Act 1982.  Whilst you have not
requested personal information, Police believe that the circumstances of
the causes of death could mean that a person could be identified based on
the circumstances of their death, should those circumstances be
published.  In order, therefore to “protect the privacy of natural
persons, including that of deceased natural persons”, those details are
withheld.

 

As mentioned in the original reply, you have the right under section 28(3)
of the Official Information Act 1982 to ask the Ombudsman to review this
decision if you are not satisfied with the way I have responded to your
additional information request.

 

Regards,

 

Inspector Jimi McGrogan

Operations Manager

New Zealand Police | Response & Operations | PNHQ | PO Box 3017 |
Wellington, NZ

DDI:Landline +64 4 470 7013 | Extn: 44513 | Mob: +64 21 1909915 |
DDI: Landline-Mob: +64 4 2123869

email: [1]mailto:[email address]

 

===============================================================

WARNING

The information contained in this email message is intended for the
addressee only and may contain privileged information. It may also be
subject to the provisions of section 50 of the Policing Act 2008, which
creates an offence to have unlawful possession of Police property. If you
are not the intended recipient of this message or have received this
message in error, you must not peruse, use, distribute or copy this
message or any of its contents.

Also note, the views expressed in this message may not necessarily reflect
those of the New Zealand Police. If you have received this message in
error, please email or telephone the sender immediately

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Ti Lamusse left an annotation ()

I have laid a complaint with the Ombudsmen

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Luke left an annotation ()

The clarifications by the Police have been helpful.

I am still not convinced that the withholding of the cause of death for the remaining 13 people is necessary under section 9(2)(a). I think there is a case to answer whether in fact the withholding is necessary (it probably is) and whether the public interest outweighs the need with withhold (maybe).

Looking at the The public interest test guide* on pages 7 and 8, it is helpful to understand:

1. the purpose of the request, and
2. the type of the information.

In respect of 1, what is the purpose of your request?

In respect of 2, there is public interest in the disclosure of information to promote the accountability of Police. If the Police have a duty of care to ensure those in their custody are kept safe, then understanding the causes of death can shed light on whether Police have proper processes in place to maintain safety of those persons.

If there is a particular cause or manner of death that interests you, it may be possible to ask for percentages for the manner of death for the remaining 13, instead of actual numbers for each year. For example, homicides.

I find it interesting that the Police were prepared to tell you how many suicides there were, but not any other causes. Why did they choose that particular manner of death to report on and not others I wonder?

In terms of what harm could arise. If the names of those who died were in the public domain, then disclosing the cause of death would link the natural person with the cause. This would apply for years where there was one death in that year (1993, 1995, 2000, 2001, 2004). One could search the NewsText database to verify whether there were any reports of news reports on death while in police custody for those years. Publishing the cause of death would not affect the person who died (presumably) but may affect the families. So any attempt to provide the information without causing harm would be best.

*http://www.ombudsman.parliament.nz/newsr...

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Luke left an annotation ()

Here is an example of U.S. statistics - https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&...

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From: THOMSON, Raewyn
New Zealand Police


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Attachment IPCA Thematic Report Deaths in Custody a Ten Year Review.pdf
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[1]New Zealand Raewyn Thomson
Police Logo Ministerial Services Advisor | Executive and Ministerial
Services | New Zealand Police
Ext: 44126  DDI: 04 474 9526  E:
[2][email address
Police National Headquarters, 180 Molesworth Street,
Thorndon, PO Box 3017, Wellington 6011
[3]www.police.govt.nz

 

 

===============================================================

WARNING

The information contained in this email message is intended for the
addressee only and may contain privileged information. It may also be
subject to the provisions of section 50 of the Policing Act 2008, which
creates an offence to have unlawful possession of Police property. If you
are not the intended recipient of this message or have received this
message in error, you must not peruse, use, distribute or copy this
message or any of its contents.

Also note, the views expressed in this message may not necessarily reflect
those of the New Zealand Police. If you have received this message in
error, please email or telephone the sender immediately

References

Visible links
2. mailto:[email address]
3. http://www.police.govt.nz/

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Luke left an annotation ()

Ti, what do you make of the Police's response?

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Ti Lamusse left an annotation ()

Kia ora Luke,

I'm happy that the data I've now been provided with is as accurate as can be.

I am however concerned that the first response contained multiple errors and had misreporting. It is worrying that even after I sent a clarifying question, the data remained incorrect until an Ombudsman investigator discovered the discrepancies.

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Things to do with this request

Anyone:
New Zealand Police only: