Freedom of Information: “Police contracts shutting down debate”

Police control information

‘Positive outcomes’ required in NZ police contracts (click to enlarge )


Some years ago we wrote about the restrictions that are placed on academics in New Zealand that effectively shut down debate and are a form of censorship.

The reason for putting New Zealand’s academics under state control is that they have the potential to be politically embarrassing. More recently, it has emerged that academics are being made to sign restrictive contracts before they’re permitted to access data (see the screen capture above or here on Dr Jarrod Gilbert’s blog) and in the case of the police contract, editorial control is taken out of the hands of the researcher.Furthermore, a breach of contract is likely to result in the academic researcher being “blacklisted”.


NZ police may blacklist researchers AND organisations

According to a recent comment made by Dr Sandra Grey, president of the NZ Tertiary Education Union

the conditions, which were attached to academics accessing publicly owned data, were being created because of the potential for political discomfort.

Government departments are very sensitive to what headlines look like – as are ministers. It’s shutting down debate,” Dr Grey said.

“I can see a case where researchers will self-censor and the integrity of their work becomes problematic. I would caution any academics against signing contracts that threaten to limit academic freedom.”

The reason for why this is news again today? Because of an expose The New Zealand Herald published this morning which revealed that

“a police contract governing the access of data used for academic research was conditional on police having a “veto” power over the outcome.

The contract also forced academics to give police a draft of the final research in case of “negative results” and to then work with researchers to “improve its outcomes“.

Bear in mind this is data held by the police, owned and paid for by the tax payer. It appears any academic that wishes to access it must first sign a contract to give police authority over any outcomes before they’re published.

Both the Minister of Police and Justice Ministers have refused to comment on the scoop, which came about after Dr Jarrod Gilbert (an expert on New Zealand’s gangs) blew the whistle:

The contract emerged in a disagreement between renowned gang expert Dr Jarrod Gilbert and the police when the academic and Herald columnist attempted to access data for a Government research project on crime near licensed liquor outlets. Dr Gilbert, a lecturer at the University of Canterbury, also found himself personally banned because of his “association with gangs”.

In other words, academics can be banned simply for researching their subject matter.

For the background to Dr Jarrod Gilbert’s story and why he was outraged click here. But do it quickly, politically sensitive articles have a tendency to disappear from NZ media sites.

Dr Gilbert is a sociologist and author of the book “Patched: The History of Gangs in New Zealand“. He is currently working on a new project “Murder: A New Zealand History

You may also be interested in

Is There a “Special Relationship” Between the National Party and NZ Police? (The Daily Blog)

…there’s a culture of secrecy and standoffishiness within the Police that’s aided and abetted by their blue-wearing friends in high places. Just remember the furore from former Minister of Police Judith Collins castigating critics of the police … and, for that matter, the rest of the justice system … for *daring* to hold Police to account and insist they actually follow the law when carrying out undercover operations (rather than, say, mercilessly forging court documents). In that instance, politicians protected police from embarrassment. Or at least, attempted to.

To witness this “special relationship” in action going the other way, look no further than the time Judith Collins protected Police over – proven – allegations that they’d manipulated crime statistics in order to make themselves and their political paymasters look good.

It was a relationship that benefited everybody (except, of course, for the poor long-suffering public and victims of crime). The Government got to trumpet claims that it had presided over and contributed to a drop in crime. The police got to say they were doing their jobs and meeting public service sector performance targets better than before.

So naturally, when concerns were raised that the Police’s efforts and crime stats might in fact have proven to be illusory, the relevant Minister decided not to look into claims the stats had been manipulated lest the Government find things they didn’t like.

Starting to get the picture here?… read on

Early Childhood Sector Spin and Propaganda. Why you Should NOT Put your Children in NZ’s Baby Farms – a politically embarrassing news article on which based its report was was subsequently removed from the internet shortly after it was published. It talked about how propaganda was used to bury bad news after a damning report into early years childcare was released:

the front page of the NZ Herald

This front page article from The NZ Herald disappeared from its website soon after it was published

Related: Front Page Article – ‘War-Rooms’ Meetings – has Disappeared from the New Zealand Herald’s Web Site – 

A few days ago we wrote about a New Zealand Herald article that was critical of the government handling of an early years child care report, and how government propaganda had been used to bury bad news.

Since then the original article on which our story was based has been removed from the NZ Herald’s web site. The original link was

Below are excerpts from the withdrawn article (in bold) which we published 3 days ago when the link was still live.”

The full transcript of the Herald’s article may be viewed at

3 thoughts on “Freedom of Information: “Police contracts shutting down debate”

  1. Wow, I thought that it was as bad as this article confirms. I just don’t want to reenter New Zealand – it is a really scary and ugly place. Yes is is pathetic, but as much as it is pathetic it is also dangerous for decent, honest, human folk.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. The government entities in New Zealand also require employees to sign similar agreements. The agreements contain vague wordings about bringing an agency or a minister into disrepute that make it very easy to target those who raise legitimate concerns. Similarly, New Zealand courts define anything that might undermine the public confidence in the court as contempt. New Zealand is a land of censorship.

  3. Is it any surprise? New Zealand is an utter joke. A clown country. Pathetic how desperate they are to keep up their deteriorating facade.

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