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Confiscations may be wrong

Monday January 29, 2018 Written by Published in Crime

Cook Islands police have been confiscating bikes from owners who have been stopped for not wearing safety helmets, but there is some doubt as to whether they are operating within the law.


Lawyer Mark Short says any action such as a bike confiscation should be consistent, “across the board”.

“If they have resorted to those measures to reduce a potential risk, that’s another matter.” 

He says he questioned police on the confiscation of a clients’ car, and they told him it was because the car had no warrant of fitness.

“There are no grounds to confiscate a car for that, and they knew it,” says Short.

“We need to know what this (confiscation) is based on. It’s a new thing, but I don’t believe they have the right to confiscate a vehicle unless they have grounds for doing so.”

Lawyer Brian Mason says the term, “grounds to do so” appears to be discretionary.

He says section 38 of the Transport Act, while giving some direction, is vague. It gives a constable in uniform the authority to enforce the act at any time, where they can stop a vehicle and either move it to safety if they believe it is causing an obstruction, or if they think it is desirable to do so for any other reason, and at the expense of the owner.

“So it’s obvious they can’t just confiscate a vehicle just because they feel like it, and it is up to their discretion.

“But unfortunately that discretion is fairly broad,” says Mason.