Police Commissioner James Keenan. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/21063038
High profile Cook Islands lawyer Mark Short says Police Commissioner James Keenan is reviewing all areas of policing following concerns of the handling of minor traffic infringements but police media remain tight lipped.
Short met with Commissioner Keenan to “make him aware of some of the
difficulties we have experienced working with the police”.
The meeting took
place after Short went public following a crackdown by police over the
Christmas period, when a record number of motorists were hit with infringements.
He raised concerns
after traffic infringements totalled 290 in December – a number that would
normally be spread over six months or more – nearly 75 per cent of drivers
fined were under the age of 40.
The most common
minor offence – 76 per cent of the total number of fines was driving without a
warrant of fitness (WOF). They were each given a $20 fine which had to be paid
in seven days.
Short, in a
written statement to Cook Islands News last week, said an unacceptable number
of young people are ending up with convictions as a result of the process.
were called into court at Avarua for failure to pay a fine on Thursday last
During the meeting
with Commissioner Keenan, Short said the police chief “advised that he is
currently reviewing all areas of the police force to address and resolve these
While police media
spokesman Trevor Pitt has been largely silent about concerns around the
ticketing, in January he said courts would not be clogged with people failing
to pay fines if drivers “simply did what they’re supposed to” by keeping up
their legal obligations.
On Monday, Pitt
said there would not be any substantive response from police following Short’s
has had discussions with Mark Short on a number of issues but will not be
debating those in the public arena,” Pitt said.
“In terms of
unpaid fines, or convictions for minor offences, I can only point out that law
enforcement is the core duty of police.
“The court process
is a consequence of those duties.”
Pitt said laws and
regulations were made by the executive branch of government.
“Unfairness is an
issue for legislators.
policy is very specific and is initiated by police under certain conditions and
“Failure to pay a
traffic fine is not one of them, this policy is modelled on the New Zealand