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Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2019 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at aardvark.co.uk



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No. Just No

30 June 2021

An effective police force is an essential part of any modern society.

Sadly, there are, and probably always will be, people within our society who lack the ethics, honesty and integrity to play fairly (no, I'm not just talking about politicians either).

These people will rob, steal, rape, murder and effectively violate others in order to get what they want and that is simply unacceptable.

You can not have the rule of law without enforcement of that law, and this is where the police come in.

So, as you can see, I'm not anti-police. In fact all my interactions with police have been very positive, albeit I've only ever been a victim, witness or third party in such dealings.

However...

Police can also get things wrong and since they have been gifted immense powers over "regular folk", their actions must always be subject to close scrutiny and control.

Sadly, we read of far too many instances in recent years when the term "unlawful" has been associated with the actions of police. Even more sadly, such unlawful actions seldom produce any real censure or penalty for those who are the perpetrators of such actions -- hence they still occur.

One of the most contentious things police do within the legal framework under which they operate, is the seizure of property and assets under "the proceeds of crime" act.

This piece of legislation is, in my honest opinion, an unacceptable extension of police powers that ought to be revoked or at least significantly reworked.

I've written about it before and expressed my concern that police should be able to take your money and/or your assets without proof and without even so much as a charge being laid in the courts. This is completely contrary to the "innocent until proven guilty" concept on which our justice system is built.

Now, the effects of this act have been take a step further in a very nasty way that I firmly believe to be an outrageous abuse of power.

According to this story running in the NZH, police are seeking to seize the assets of a man who has already been convicted and punished by the courts for multiple "Health & Safety" breaches at his business.

According to the report, police now seek to seize his properties as "the proceeds of crime", despite the fact that it is not their job to mete out punishments nor penalties, that is the sole perogative of the courts.

If this succeeds it sets a very, very nasty precedent that could see our police acting as judge, jury and executioner, dishing out whatever they feel is an appropriate level of financial penalty by way of the Act, over and above that delivered by the court system.

To be honest, this becomes legalised vigilantism and I think everyone can agree that there is no place for vigilantism (legal or otherwise) in a developed society. In fact the very raison d'etre for police in the first place is to eliminate the need for such actions.

Fortunately the court seem to have taken a rather dim view of the police's proposed actions in this case and are demanding that they be prepared to cover the costs, should their attempts to force a forfeiture of these assets fails. Bloody good job!

However, I firmly believe that this is just more evidence to suggest that this Act is unreasonable and an anathema to the concept of fairness and true justice.

What do readers think?

Sure, the goals of the Proceeds of Crime Act are laudable but without checks and balances it simply gives far too much power to a group (the police) who have already proven that they are prepared to act "unlawfully" when it suits them.

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