Local media reported that an in-house doctor who worked with police from 1999 to 2016 was accused of sexually harassing new recruits, but the police did not investigate the allegations properly. The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) conducted an investigation into how the police handled the complaints, which came from both male and female recruits. The police department kept sending new recruits to the doctor for medical tests during that time.
According to NZ Herald, a doctor who worked with police until 2016 sexually harassed new recruits by performing anal exams and making them undress during the final step of the recruitment process, known as ‘medical’. The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) said that these actions were not normal for a medical test. The authority received two complaints in 2019 about how the police department ignored the internal complaints.
“The doctor’s medicals had been questioned at least seven times from 2002 to 2014/15. Police did nothing and kept sending recruits to the doctor,” the authority stated, as quoted by NZ Herald.
Only in 2017, the police department started an investigation after a formal complaint was filed. They notified the Medical Council but the investigation found that there was not enough evidence to charge the doctor.
“We found that the police’s criminal investigation of the doctor in 2017 was acceptable. However, we also found that police did not investigate any of the concerns from 2002 to 2014/15,” the authority said.
“Also, we think that while the criminal investigators supported the recruits during the criminal investigation, the police executive member who knew about the allegations did not support the recruits enough during the criminal investigation and Medical Council process.”
The watchdog said that when the police realized how serious the allegations were, they should have investigated why they did not act on the earlier complaints.
“By not doing that, Police failed to get the information they needed to understand how they handled the recruits’ concerns,” IPCA said, as quoted by NZ Herald.
Police admit their mistake
The police department has agreed with and accepted the findings
Deputy Commissioner Tania Kura, as quoted by NZ Herald, said that the police wanted to thank the people who were affected and who had the bravery to speak up when they felt something was wrong.
“This is clearly a case where Police did not meet their high standards when dealing with old allegations like this.
“It is important to remember that both Police’s own criminal investigation, and a disciplinary investigation by the Medical Council’s Health Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, both found not enough evidence to take further action including criminal charges.