Police censorship of crime research “an outrage”

The Green Party is calling on Police Minister Michael Woodhouse to ensure Police scrap controversial contracts that place onerous restrictions on academic researchers’ access to Police data.

The Green Party’s call comes following revelations that University of Canterbury sociologist Dr Jarrod Gilbert has been blacklisted from accessing police data and that other academic researchers have been required to sign contracts that give Police the ability to censor research findings.

“This is an absolute outrage – it is as though Police have never heard of the Official Information Act,” said David Clendon, the Green Party’s Police spokesperson.

“This smacks of interference, and the Minister must demand Police stop trying to stymie academic freedom, or face accusations of political interference himself.

“Police deputy chief executive Mark Evans’ excuse that the contracts are necessary in cases where academics didn’t understand or misrepresent information shows no understanding of how academic research works.

“If an academic comes up with research that is flawed, peer review means there will be other academics who will be very quick to point out the flaws.

“I have no doubt that the real motivation behind these onerous contracts is political – to enhance the public perception of the Police by manipulating research findings so they reflect positively on the Police.

“That is a total abuse of power, and results in Police not being subject to the rigorous scrutiny that a democratic society demands.

“Minister Woodhouse needs to get Police Commissioner Mike Bush into his office and tell him that these contracts must be scrapped and the Police must comply with the Official Information Act rather than cherry pick the researchers who can access Police data and suppress unfavourable research findings,” Mr Clendon said. 

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