NEW Zealand’s police commissioner says the force will act on a watchdog’s findings into how officers handled an investigation into a group of teenage boys who boasted online about having sex with drunk and sometimes underage girls.
In an unprecedented move, Police Minister Anne Tolley has asked the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) to investigate after revelations four complaints were made about the Roast Busters group between 2011 and 2012.
Police said earlier this week they couldn’t lay charges against the Auckland teens because no complaints had been laid.
They appealed for “a brave girl” to come forward, and on Wednesday a 15-year-old said she laid a complaint in 2011 when she was 13.
She says she was asked about the clothing she was wearing at the time in a way that suggested police thought she had been “asking for it”.
Tolley summoned Police Commissioner Peter Marshall to parliament for an urgent please-explain meeting on Thursday morning.
Marshall said he assured Tolley that the best efforts had been made by the investigation team and complaints about sexual assaults were investigated thoroughly and professionally by police.
The referral of the case to the IPCA is “entirely appropriate given the level of public interest”, he said.
Waitemata District Commander Superintendent Bill Searle will also be reviewing aspects of how the investigation was handled.
Marshall and Searle have apologised to the girl whose formal complaint was not publicly acknowledged by police.
“However, I am now satisfied that her complaint was very thoroughly investigated, but this case did not meet the evidential threshold required for prosecution,” Marshall said.
Police welcomed any IPCA investigation and “will act on any learnings it may identify”, he said.
Meanwhile, Assistant Police Commissioner Malcolm Burgess will be sent to Waitemata to review the policing district’s processes after officers failed to tell their bosses about the complaint.
Top Auckland cop Detective Superintendent Andy Lovelock is also assessing the Roast Busters file to decide what steps police should take next.