Police bid to beef up security

Monday July 10, 2017 Written by Published in Local
Police Commissioner Maara Tetava says the police service will not be compromised in the future. 17070683 Police Commissioner Maara Tetava says the police service will not be compromised in the future. 17070683

Police tightened security practices at National Headquarters following the theft of more than $24,000 from the exhibit room in 2011, parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has been told.

 

The members were told that the security of the exhibit room, at the time of offending by a former officer, was deficient and had allowed the opportunity to exploit the situation and breach its security as well as the safes where the money was kept.

“Perhaps there may have been some complacency on the part of the police where procedures were not followed to the full,” the committee’s report said.

“The Exhibit Room (and the police safes) have since been relocated to be close to the commissioner’s office with limited access for unauthorised staff.

“That system has been in place since the theft, so that room is very secure.”

The report said with the funding support of the Australian Federal Police a brand new sliding door, a locking system, burglar alarm, dead bolt lock as well as a CCTV camera system were installed for the new exhibit room.

In addition, only one person is allowed to access the exhibit room - the Exhibit Officer.

“All exhibits go to him before they go into the exhibit room. It’s very secure and well recorded 24 hours a day.

A police sergeant was appointed as Exhibit Officer so nothing goes into, or out of, that Exhibit Room without his consent.

“The CCTV camera system is pretty good and at this time police are working on a new system for the whole station.”

These improvements are now included in the police service’s general instructions.

In addition the drug safe has also been shifted into that Exhibit Room.

Police have also opened up an exhibit account with the Bank of the South Pacific so all cash held as exhibits are now banked after the notes are scanned in order to record the serial numbers.

The committee heard that the officers responsible for the exhibits relating to the thefts were transferred out of the Criminal Investigation Branch and none of them are now serving in the police.

Since the introduction of the new Police Act in 2012 there have been reviews of police operations and there’s been improvements to policies and general instructions.

“The committee acknowledges that this was a very difficult and challenging investigation as the offender was a police officer who, at the time, was a member of the Detective Branch and getting an admission out of her wasn’t easy.

“The high level of difficulty and the intensive nature of the investigation meant that the police were forced to use forensic and other evidence to link her to the cases.

“The investigation was eventually carried out on behalf of the police by an investigative team comprising a detective sergeant and sergeant from the New Zealand Police Force at the request of the commissioner of police.

“Just to make sure that the investigation was conducted thoroughly and to the highest standard possible, the commissioner also requested an Australian Federal Police officer, a Detective Sergeant, to come down and peer review the investigation carried out by the New Zealand Police.

“The peer review concluded that the investigation was conducted very thoroughly, much to the satisfaction of the Police Leadership Team.”

The committee recommended that future police training in forensic investigations be strengthened, in order to up-skill local police in forensic investigative techniques.

It also recommended that the police basic training programme be strengthened to include sessions on building character, morale and integrity.

Members wanted an immediate review and upgrade of the police salary structure - particularly at the lower and middle salary bands - as an incentive to boost morale and motivate police officers to uphold the utmost integrity in discharging their duties and to retain them in the service for longer; and to make the starting salary for constables a minimum of $20,000 per year.

The committee recommended that police continue to improve their systems and procedures and regularly test its facilities in order to maintain security and include updates in their annual reports to parliament.

Police Commissioner Maara Tetava assured the committee that despite the constraints they faced, the police service would not be compromised in the future.     

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