25 July 2010 (scroll down for updates & keep checking back)
Remember how the Palmerston North Wikipedia page was censored to remove references to crime because it was making overseas investors and professionals shy away from moving to the town?; and of how gangs are now euphemistically called “groups” in some news reports?; and how no police statistics are kept on racially motivated crimes in New Zealand?
Well now the police in Gisborne want to restrict the information released to the media, and give the people in the town the warm and fuzzies.
The question is *Is ignorance bliss, or are there other motives for clamming-up about the true extent and nature of crime in Gisborne?* It smacks of censorship to us, and history has proved that has never been a good thing. Surely it is preferable to create a safer, low crime community rather than mislead people into thinking that there’s one?
Don’t the public have a right to know what is going on in their own town and the actions their public servants are taking to control that crime?
What if similar decisions were taken elsewhere in the country? (it’s already been happening in Rotorua) you can kiss goodbye to a free press in New Zealand and say hello to a propaganda mouthpiece, covering nothing but cake sales and ‘feel good’ stories.
From the Gisborne Herald’s website:
Crime? What crime?
Christine McCafferty 24 July 2010
GISBORNE police have decided to restrict the information on crime they provide to media in a move to “make the community feel safer”.
Up until now, The Gisborne Herald has been given detailed reports of crimes attended by police, including burglaries, domestic violence and the arrests that make up our daily “Police briefs”.
But earlier this week area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama said comprehensive information would no longer be provided. He saw no benefit in “reporting all and sundry”…read the whole article here
Related NZ State v. NZ Press stories:
Police Minister infuriated at newspaper’s test of security at Super 14s match – reporters testing security at a rugby match weren’t pretending to be terrorists.
It’s official: Politicians can’t take a joke – “MPs may make fools of themselves from time to time but they want to ban others from doing it. Satire, ridicule and denigration of MPs using any television footage shot from parliamentary galleries is to be banned under rules proposed by the standing orders committee. The move on freedom of expression is not the only controversy the rules have caused. They also create anomalies between what television cameras can show and what newspapers photographers are allowed to show, giving television the advantage…”
Update 1. 29 July 2010
1. The Gisborne Herald was one of the last daily newspapers in the country to receive detailed lists from the police, according to Gisborne area commander Inspector Sam Aberahama; as repeated on Stuff. (No wonder our figures on reported armed robberies doesn’t tally-up with the official statistics)
So many newspapers went quietly into that goodnight! only the Gisborne Herald was prepared to take a stand and we appreciate why now – that was the last stand of NZ’s free press.
2. That Police Minister, Judith Collins, thought that media reports on police conduct and other issues had contributed to a lack of respect for police. Which makes the police’s decision to withhold what it chooses from the media look even more questionable.
The Media Freedom Committee had their say on the issue too. We get the impression that this has been brewing under the surface for a while and now was an ideal opportunity to remove the cover on the whole sorry mess. You can read their chairman’s comments on Voxy, but this one comment from him struck us as odd:
“The Media Freedom Committee welcomes an assurance from Police National Headquarters that the Gisborne policy is a one-off and is not about to spread to other parts of the country.”
Which is rather different to what was said by the Gisborne Area Commander in the Stuff article. i.e. that Gisborne was one of the last daily newspapers to receive detailed lists.
Update 2. 30 July 2010
The Sensible Sentencing Trust released a statement today saying that police held in their own hands the solution to stopping attacks on officers, in response to matters raised by the Police Minister at yesterday’s press conference:
Firstly, that police conduct should be beyond reproach and secondly, that police should be helping families to intervene in illicit drug use before that person gets hurt – specifically mentioning the failure of the “P Plan” to deal effectively with methamphetamine demand in the community. Read the full statement on Scoop.co.nz
Also today, in another article in The Gisborne Herald it has demonstrated that both the local police and the paper are holding their stance on this issue, with the paper saying that there had been some significant crimes in the past week that had not been reported to either the local media or the public. They also said that even before this incident full logs weren’t being supplied to them. Read the full article HERE
Update 3. 31 July 2010
The Dom Post yesterday also reported on the police’s ‘media policy’ in an article on Stuff.co.nz that has within in its URL “Gisborne police defend information blackout” but with a headline of “Gisborne police stand firm on keeping some crime quiet”.
Their coverage is much the same as in other publications but they did publish a rather interesting list of crime figures under the heading:
SPOTLIGHT ON OFFENDED
NZ Police figures for offences per 10,000 people:
which showed that for Eastern District: Gisborne, Napier and Hastings, the figures for serious assaults, alcohol offences, cannabis offences and sexual attacks were well above the national rates :
Serious assaults: 66.8 v. 48.8
Alcohol offences: 52.2 v. 23.2
Cannabis offences: 50.8 v. 35.1
Sexual attacks: 6.8 v. 5.7
The whole Dom Post article may be read HERE
Update 4. 30 July 2010
Read “no notice from police” in the Gisborne Herald for example of how restrictions on reporting of crime have affected people in Gisborne. People are taking it upon themselves to report burglary hotspots to the paper, whilst police have only reported one burglary.
Now, if you were a migrant intending to move to New Zealand looking for a better quality of life wouldn’t you want to know this information to help you in your decision making process?