Judith Collins has a hard hitting column in the Sunday Star-Times showing her mettle again on law and order.
Who would want to be an undercover police officer? You put your life on the line, you leave your home and family, you assume an identity, you live with people who are violent drug dealers in constant fear for your life, and then they start to suspect you.
Either you get out and the whole costly operation is compromised or you stay put and leave your life in the hands of people who might well kill you. If they find out who you really are, not only are you at serious risk, but so is your family.
So, you might think the police could set up a fake search warrant, like the fake identity items you already have, to bolster your story and provide you better cover. Well, you’d be wrong.
Nelson police targeted the Red Devils gang in the undercover Operation Explorer, from September 2009 to March 2011.
Explorer resulted in more than 150 charges, including drugs, firearms and conspiracy charges, being laid against 21 members and associates of the gang. That sounds like a great result to me.
But, the Crown recently dropped the case after Justice David Collins stayed a majority of the charges because, he says, evidence for them was ‘improperly’ obtained by police.
Justice Collins ruled police probably broke the law when they forged that search warrant and prosecuted an undercover officer to bolster his credibility with the gang. He said the police’s actions amounted to “significant misconduct” and possible “serious criminal offending”.
Police Assistant Commissioner Malcolm Burgess has said officers involved in the fake warrant and prosecution “were acting in the honest belief that their actions were lawful and necessary to protect the undercover officer”.
Police reviewed the conduct of staff involved with Operation Explorer in 2012 and found no prosecution or disciplinary action were required.
I couldn’t agree more with the police. It is simply outrageous that serious criminal offending by a dangerous gang be allowed to go unanswered. Their illegal firearms continue to be out on the streets, and these dangerous criminals continue to be a risk to families and communities. The gang must be laughing. The message is clear to criminal gangs. Let your new friend know you think they could be police, know that if they are, the operation will be closed down.