Judith Collins let us know what she thinks about how the Police currently enforce speed restrictions on our roads. Not only did she actually get this wrong, but she probably shouldn't be telling us anyway.

Via RNZ comes a story about Police Minister Judith Collins taking issue in the House with the Police issuing speeding tickets to people who are breaking the speed limit.

The background lies in statements Collins made back at the end of May, when she announced a "funding shakeup" would mean fewer police officers on the roads and more resources "for things like burglaries". In defending this change in focus, Collins stated that she has "never been a big fan of the absolute restrictions on speed and I think you'll find there will be fewer police officers on the road."

Those sentiments took on a bit of an edge after the worst Queen's Birthday holiday period in 27 years, with 11 fatalities recorded. As as result, the following interchange took place in the House:

Stuart Nash: When she says she is not “a big fan of the absolute restrictions on speed”, is that because she thinks men on phones cause more deaths than speeding?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Because, actually, I do not agree with giving people speeding tickets for driving 1 kilometre over the speed limit. Because, do you know what? The way I see it—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order!

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Or even 3 kilometres over the speed limit. And one of the things I think is that when we have that sort of what I would say is very strict adherence, we can end up with drivers watching the speedometer to the exclusion of watching the road and considering the road conditions.

However, RNZ news also reported the issue as follows: "But Miss Collins told reporters she doesn't like seeing motorists who are doing 55 in a 50 zone being ticketed." As I can't find an audio recording of her actually saying this - the package from Morning Report didn't include it - I'm not confident to judge her on these words. Therefore, I'll put them to one side and just look at her parliamentary statements.

There are two things wrong with Collins' claim in the House, and one thing that might be wrong about it. 

The first wrong thing is that (in her Parliamentary comments, anyway) she flatly misrepresents the Police's policy on ticketing for speed. Here's how they describe it:

Driving faster than the posted speed limit is illegal. Police have the discretion to issue you with a speeding infringement notice (speeding ticket) if you drive at any speed over the limit.

If you are caught by a police officer or speed camera driving more than 10km/h over the limit, you can expect to be issued with an infringement notice.

In some circumstances, you are liable to get a speeding ticket if you drive more than 4km/h over the limit:

  • School zones – within 250m of school and preschool boundaries.
  • During official holiday periods – these are publicised in the media and on this website.

This policy applied even back in the summer of 2014-2015 when the Police publicly announced they would be taking a "zero-tolerance" approach to speeding. As the then Police Minister Michael Woodhouse explained:

Zero-tolerance was for very poor driving behaviour, that would lead to death and injury on our roads," Mr Woodhouse said.

"Police maintained a discretion, the speed cameras had a 4 [kilometre an hour] discretion but I accept that there may have been some confusion in the mind of the New Zealand public about what those discretions were.

So, there may well be the odd apocryphal occasion where an individual officer has exercised her or his discretion to ticket someone for traveling 1, or even 3, km/h over the relevant speed limit (say, 51 km/h, or 81 km/h, or 101 km/h) - but it certainly isn't anything like standard or expected practice that this will occur. 

The second wrong thing is that the claim "too much focus on speed makes people unaware of other dangers" appears to be an "I reckon" rather than objectively proven fact. From the RNZ story:

Associate Professor Samuel Charlton of Waikato University, a specialist in driver behaviour, said it was an interesting idea but he was not aware of any research in this area.

He said it was more usual to find that drivers did not know what speed they were going at.

So Minister Collins' observation seems more in the nature of a Kiwiblog comment than representation of reality. While she may believe that her particular interest in car culture gives her some sort of privileged insight into driver behaviour, for me it's peer reviewed science or bunk. 

For on that note, we need to realise just why the Police put such an emphasis on speed as a road danger. There's this thing called "physics". It's been around for a while now, and most people (outside of the Kiwiblog commentariat) have come to terms with it. And no matter how much time you may spend in cars, no matter how good you might think your driving is, you can't beat it.

Which brings me to the third thing that may be wrong with Minister Collins' statements. In saying "I do not agree with giving people speeding tickets for driving ... even 3 kilometres over the speed limit", she is coming dangerously close to telling the Police how to enforce the laws of New Zealand. Which is something that, as a Minister of Police, she is both statutorily and constitutionally forbidden from doing.

In terms of statute, the Policing Act 2008 makes it crystal clear that the decision whether or not to have a practice of ticketing all speeding drivers belongs with the Commissioner of Police, and the Commissioner of Police alone:

The Commissioner is not responsible to, and must act independently of, any Minister of the Crown (including any person acting on the instruction of a Minister of the Crown) regarding— 

...

(b) the enforcement of the law in relation to any individual or group of individuals

And there are very, very good constitutional reasons for why the (politically elected) Minister ought not to be able to tell the Police how to go about investigating offences and when and how to respond to lawbreakers. These reasons are discussed in this NZ Herald article from back in 2001. And here is (then) Police Minister Michael Woodhouse explaining their importance in relation to why he won't answer questions about the Police investigation into the ex-National MP Mike Sabin. To put those reasons in a nutshell, the cops get to exercise an awful lot of power over individuals in the name of upholding the laws of the country, and so you want to make sure that this power will not get deployed according to whatever political whim happens to seize the Minister to which they answer.

Now, of course, Collins didn't directly tell the Police not to issue (or to refrain from adopting a policy of issuing) tickets to speeders - or, low level speeders, anyway. But just like her boss John Key has done in the past, she did use language that looks a lot like a statement of ministerial instruction. Which is problematic, because what are we to think if, in the near future, the Police were to undertake a review of their road safety programmes and announce that they will no longer be making speed enforcement such a priority.

Sure, the Commissioner no doubt would reassure us that this really was his "independent" decision that was taken without regard to ministerial preferences. There may even be some good reasons to reassess the effectiveness of current practices. But when Minister Collins gets up in the House and informs the world that she "do[es] not agree with" particular policing strategies to enforce the law as written, can we really be sure that it isn't her personal preferences that are driving the police's decision on when and how to make sure the laws of the land are followed?

Comments (30)

by Rich on June 09, 2016
Rich

Unusually, I'd disagree.

To me, "operational matters" involve individual cases, where, of course, the government should not get involved in demanding the police prosecute X or drop the case of Y.

Deciding the resources applied and attitude taken by police to a particular category of offence is a matter of policy, almost by definition. How are the police to be accountable for that policy? If there isn't governmental accountability, then how are the police to be held accountable to the public as a whole? 
 

by Andrew Geddis on June 09, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Rich,

It's on the cusp, I accept. Hence my weasley statement that: "There's two things wrong with Collins' claim in the House, and one thing that might be wrong about it."

However, I still think there's reason to say she shouldn't say what she did say. The Minister can (and does!) indicate priorities for the Police - for instance, the second paragraph links to a story reporting this: 

Ms Collins said a funding shakeup will mean less money to spend on road safety and 100 fewer officers on patrol.

"Police will still have funding but not for as much road policing as they had. So they'll put that into burglaries and other things."

That's fine - resource allocation (a political decision for the elected Minister) will have consequences in terms of how the Police can carry out their functions, consequences for which the Minister ultimately is responsible. So, if the public see a spike in road deaths/injuries but a higher resolution rate for burglaries, then they can judge "was that a wise trade-off to make?" No problems at all.

But Collins went beyond that. She (in essence) said "I don't think the Police ought to enforce the law against a certain class of law breaker." Because that is, after all, what the Police are doing when they ticket speeders. And that isn't something I think the Minister of Police ought to be saying.

by Nick Gibbs on June 09, 2016
Nick Gibbs

I agree with Collins that writing out mandatory tickets for those travelling 4 kms over the limit on the open road is counter productive. I also recall the police campaign announcing this, and Minister Woodhouse's subsequent attempts to muddy the water around, what seemed to be a clear and unwelcome decision from the police. 

And while physics can't be argued with those that measure the physics and how they interpret their experiments can be. I've always been skeptical about these rather surprising claims about small speed increases delivering exponential results. Science is prone to fads e.g fat now ok; sugar not ok.

Finally your quite right about JC's comments. As I listened to her I wondered what message the Commissioner should be taking on board, and what might happen to his career if he didn't get with the programme. Collins has only just been reinstated and this behaviour doesn't bode well. 

by Ian MacKay on June 09, 2016
Ian MacKay

Ministers routinely say, "I cannot comment on this or that issue because it is an operational matter."

Judith is exempt because when it suits her she can and does comment on operational matters. Funny that.

by Viv Kerr on June 09, 2016
Viv Kerr

@ NG -" I've always been skeptical about these rather surprising claims about small speed increases delivering exponential results"  

Why the skepticism? It's not a fad. Kinetic energy increases with the square of the speed, an object doubling its speed has four times as much kinetic energy. 

by Dennis Horne on June 10, 2016
Dennis Horne

Have you asked yourself why JC said it, Andrew (haven't noticed you on Kiwiblog recently)?

Why do politicians say things? And what do they say?

I don't mean this as a criticism of your (sound) analysis, but maybe JC wants to make herself popular with the public, and doesn't care that some lawyer (notoriously unpopular people) might write on a blog maybe .0005% of the population reads.

by Dennis Horne on June 10, 2016
Dennis Horne

Just to add to the physics of speed. It's not the energy that causes the crashes. The worse thing you can do in an aircraft is go too slow.

To be safe, you have to be thinking ahead of the vehicle. Most people lack the ability and discipline to drive fast for the conditions.

And this is the problem with the police enforcing arbitrary speed limits. Most of the time they are irrelevant. 

As the accident records shows.

People make mistakes. Sometimes these cause accidents and injuries. Sometimes they don't.

I know capital punishment doesn't deter crimes of passion. But, if the punishment for killing someone on the road was execution, would the road toll drop?

by Andrew Geddis on June 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Dennis,

I imagine JC said it because she believes it and (as you say) thinks it will resonate with the public. But I still think she shouldn't have done so (for the constitutional reasons discussed) and this is my (as you say, small and insignificant) platform for saying so.

However! I think you underestimate the mighty power of this website. Yes, maybe only 0.0005% of the population (actually, it's more like 0.001 - 0.004%, depending on the post) read this, but they are the very, very best and brightest with far-reaching and near-unlimited levels of influence. Aren't you, dear Pundit readers?

by Dennis Horne on June 10, 2016
Dennis Horne

@Andrew. I'm not arguing with you. (Would I?) Write again when you discover a way of getting politicians to do what they ought - in a democracy. NZ has other problems vexing some of us great thinkers...

by Antoine on June 10, 2016
Antoine

I wonder what Collins' ambitions are

A.

by Andrew Geddis on June 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

I wonder what Collins' ambitions are.

To be Winston Peters' deputy PM (and he succeeds merging two much-commented comments threads into one).

 
by Rich on June 10, 2016
Rich

"I don't think the Police ought to enforce the law against a certain class of law breaker."

But that's a decision that has to be made, whether it's by an individual cop on the road, by a policy set by police management, or by an informal understanding within the police service.

(See also computer misuse, in a recent case)

Shouldn't such policy be made in an open and accountable fashion with the views of the electorate (as expressed through elected politicians) being taken into consideration? Maybe there should be a publicly available policy manual with government having the ability to veto/propose. 


(Or you try and put in in legislation and wind up with a Taxes Act style attempt to cover every base). 

by Fentex on June 10, 2016
Fentex

 I think you'll find there will be fewer police officers on the road.

Entirely apart from the issue of speeding this would be bad policing. Police are most effective when seen, pricking peoples conscience and reminding crims they're about.

Taking them out of the public eye to be purely reactive book-keepers of hard to resolve crimes makes them fairly useless.

We ought be seeing more police on the roads, footpaths and in malls regardless of whether or not they're there to enforce anything in particular.

by Andrew Geddis on June 10, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Rich,

But that's a decision that has to be made, whether it's by an individual cop on the road, by a policy set by police management, or by an informal understanding within the police service.

And the Policing Act 2008 actually covers this:

28: General instructions

(1) The Commissioner may issue general instructions for Police employees.

The problem with then having elected politicians making the call is (i.e. ordering/pressuring the Commissioner to tell officers which class of offences to investigate/prosecute) seems pretty obvious. Consider these scenarios:

(1) A Green Party Minister instructs the Commissioner to tell police not to intervene in any environmental protests against coal/oil/whatever;

(2) A Labour Party Minister instructs the Commissioner to tell police not to intervene in any union pickets blocking access to places of business;

(3) A National Party Minister instructs the Commissioner to tell police not to take action against trucking companies that exceed the maximum hours for drivers/weight limits/etc.

Now, you may say that in each case the Minister "may pay a political price" for their actions. But what happens to concepts such as "the rule of law" if the enforcement of those laws depends upon the political preferences (and the preparedness to pay political prices) of politicians?

by Nick Gibbs on June 10, 2016
Nick Gibbs

@Viv, I've seen instances in my own industry where the politics has trumped the evidence.

by Viv Kerr on June 10, 2016
Viv Kerr

@ Nick. Climate change is a good example of that. The evidence suggests we should urgently reduce fossil fuel burning, politics says business as usual.

@ Dennis. No one said energy causes crashes. It's the sudden stop when you crash that's the problem. 

by Dennis Horne on June 10, 2016
Dennis Horne

@Viv Kerr. True. No one said energy causes crashes. As you implied, the energy is half the mass times the "speed" squared. It's speed the police chase.

So much so they wait at passing lanes to trap drivers "speeding" in an attempt to pass drivers who have doodled along but then sped up. 

The emphasis on strictly obeying an arbitrary speed limit seems to have failed to lower the crash/injury/fatality rate. At least below a certain high point, which actually coincided with poorer cars, roads and emergency care. 

The way to reduce the effects of speed is to reduce the impact, which car manufacturers do with crumple zones and air bags.

The way to reduce the number of crashes is to improve the driving. Everybody makes mistakes but some drivers are shocking and shouldn't be on the road.

So why are they?

Is that political?

by Charlie on June 11, 2016
Charlie

Andrew, I think you're way out of your depth when you try to use physics as support for your argument. A few facts to confuse you:

Speed doesn't kill but acceleration does, if it sufficiently high in value. (Newton's 2nd law)

Nothing magic happens beyond 100 km/hr to make a car unsafe. The speed limit is completely arbitrary and not based on any science at all. The proof of this is the 110 km/hr limit in Aussie and the (largely ignored) 70mph limit in the UK. Both countries have far lower fatality and accident rates per capita than here.

The current speed limit was set for Morris Minors with cross-ply tyres and drum brakes.

It is blatantly obvious to most of us that the overly zealous enforcement of speed limits is a bankrupt policy. The statistics prove it: We now have a high degree of compliance among the driving public yet the accident rates remain stubbornly high. Unfortunately this dogma has painted police management into a corner and now they have no way out.  The lower fatality rates of recent years are most probably due to safer cars and marginally improved roads. Nothing much to do with speed limits at all.

Judith is correct: Time spent ticketing with a camera was, apart from the value of the revenue generated, mostly a waste of time. As someone who pays their salaries, I require them to focus on what matters to me: Burglaries would be a good start!

 

by mudfish on June 12, 2016
mudfish

Hi Charlie,

Thanks for your thoroughly confusing, and as usual, misleading "facts" drifting into opinions. I ain't no expert, but thought I'd offer some observations after following some of Andrew's leads above - road crash stats, police advice, nzta resources etc.

Speed doesn't kill but acceleration does. It's probably the deceleration that's the real issue, astronauts seems to have survived a few G.

Nothing magic happens beyond 100 km/hr to make a car unsafe. The speed limit is completely arbitrary and not based on any science at all. However our roads are designed with a particular speed limit in mind, and plenty of science goes into their design. The proof of this is the 110 km/hr limit in Aussie and the (largely ignored) 70mph limit in the UK. Both countries have far lower fatality and accident rates per capita than here. The UK fatality rates are far lower but the Australian rates are only moderately lower.

The current speed limit was set for Morris Minors with cross-ply tyres and drum brakes. So is it a good idea that as we make ever safer, more powerful cars that we drive them faster, (at the same time as we continue to put ever more vehicles on the roads)?

It is blatantly obvious to most of us that the overly zealous enforcement of speed limits is a bankrupt policy. The statistics prove it: We now have a high degree of compliance among the driving public yet the accident rates remain stubbornly high. This is where I'm getting at the misleading bit. This sounds like the complaining of someone who's had more than their fair share of speeding tickets, thinks their driving is just fine and doesn't believe the multitude of government research and advice that speed is one of the factors in getting the road toll down. Yes, we have a higher degree of compliance among the driving public (average and 85th percentile speeds have come down substantially in both urban and open roads according to ministry of transport data from 1995) but the fatality rates have come down substantially too. Your mixing of fact, myth and opinion are frustrating. The statistics I've looked at don't support what you are saying.

 Unfortunately this dogma has painted police management into a corner and now they have no way out.  The "dogma" has a sound basis, management are not in a corner, they could choose to ease off the enforcement accelerator a little if they wished, but the 4-pronged "Safer journeys"  strategy based on world-leading Swedish approaches (roads and roadsides, speed, vehicles and road use) gives them no reason to. 

The lower fatality rates of recent years are most probably due to safer cars and marginally improved roads. Nothing much to do with speed limits at all. Now you're just speculating. However, I make the following observation, which goes a little way to supporting your speculation:

  • Speeds on NZ roads came down most dramatically between 2000 and 2006, since then they have continued to track down at a slower rate.
  • Fatalities dropped faster in 2007-2013 than they did in 2000-2006.

Your last paragraph is really just you stating your opinion agrees with Judith's opinion, again supported by an unsubstantiated assertion. As someone else who pays their salaries, I want the politicians to spend the time looking into and understanding the science of what works and what doesn't and to make the judgements about where the money is best spent in all our interests, in the long term. It may well be that because of increased conformism to speed limits, safety belt wearing etc, that it's right to raise the question as to whether or not police time is better spent elsewhere, but even raising the question has the potential to undermine the multiple government messages and efforts for speeds to be reduced.

Interesting factoid to leave you with: NZ road fatalities by age group per 100,000 population generally line up as about the average for the counties supplying data to the International Road Traffic and Accident Database, except that they are somewhat higher for 3 age groups: under 15, 44-55 and over 75. Why those age groups? Your speculation welcome here...(but government agencies, find out, will you, and advise the ministers?).

 

by Andrew Geddis on June 12, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Charlie,

If NZ's speed limits really are somehow wrong (as are the Police's claimed peer-reviewed studies that underlie their focus on speed, as outlined here), then the thing to do is change these. Collins can talk to her colleague, the Minister of Transport, get him to take a proposed regulation change to Cabinet, have it discuss the matter and agree to make the amendments. Then the Government collectively can wear the praise/blame for the consequences - if the road toll spikes up, we know who to blame for the deaths of more NZers.

What Collins can't do is say "the current legally binding speed limits are outdated, so Police should ignore them." And that is all.

by Ross on June 12, 2016
Ross

our roads are designed with a particular speed limit in mind, and plenty of science goes into their design.

That doesn't change the fact that speed limits are arbitrary and can be subject to change. Local councils set the speed limits in their regions. There is no guarantee of uniformity across the various councils, and speed limits can be changed if enough people complain.

NZ's road safety performance is average as measured by fatalities.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11455561

 

by Nick Gibbs on June 12, 2016
Nick Gibbs

Here's James Dyson - knight of the realm and multi-billionaire on research and politics.

"In one notorious case, Dyson argued that vacuum cleaners should be tested in real homes, just as consumers would use them, in line with what the EU claimed it wanted. His competitors, who make machines with paper bags which clog, insisted the tests should take place in laboratories with brand new bags and filters. And no dust. Guess who won?"

 “The court said there isn’t a test for home use, which is a complete…” he searches for a kinder word, “…untruth. So it’s a politically motivated court of justice. Politically motivated to protect vested interests."

From here

 

by Dennis Horne on June 12, 2016
Dennis Horne

@Andrew. First, we should all agree with you. The minister ought not to have said what she did, but she has bigger fish to fry than red herrings - as the motorist sees it.  Secondly, it's not that the speed limits are "wrong", it's that they are arbitrary - to some extent anyway - so nearly always wrong. As such it is irrational to suppose strict enforcement will solve the problem.

You could argue that any driver who crashes is going too fast.  (Certainly the faster he goes the more he is going to regret it.)

Therein lies the problem of applying statistics to individuals. It becomes a question of judgement of the best compromise.

If we motor at the the speed of horses there will be far fewer crashes. If we motor at 200 kph there will be nobody left to complain. 

by Andrew Geddis on June 13, 2016
Andrew Geddis

@Dennis,

The minister ought not to have said what she did, but she has bigger fish to fry than red herrings - as the motorist sees it. 

No - she doesn't. One of the core functions of the Minister of Police is to respect the constitutional convention not to intervene in the Police's operational functions. That's just not something that can be set aside because she thinks motorists are unhappy.

Secondly, it's not that the speed limits are "wrong", it's that they are arbitrary - to some extent anyway - so nearly always wrong. As such it is irrational to suppose strict enforcement will solve the problem.

I've actually written a bit on the general issue of speed limits and their enforcement. However, to expand, we could have a regulatory system that simply says something like "drive at a reasonable speed in all circumstances" and then leaves it up to individual officers to decide in particular cases whether they think that rule has been breached. So, one officer may ticket people in certain circumstances, when another officer will waive them through because they reckon your speed is OK - and you'll find out if your speed is "reasonable" only once the officer makes her or his decision on whether to ticket you. Would that situation be preferable? 

by Ross on June 13, 2016
Ross

I've actually written a bit on the general issue of speed limits and their enforcement.

Yes, you said: "There is a standard 10% tolerance given to speeding drivers, meaning that tickets hardly ever get issued to people going less than 110 km/h. Consequently, 110 km/h has become the de facto open road speed limit."

However, the 10% tolerance has been and gone. It seems that a 4kmh tolerance is now the go. Or is it?

If you are caught by a police officer or speed camera driving more than 10km/h over the limit, you can expect to be issued with an infringement notice.

In some circumstances, you are liable to get a speeding ticket if you drive more than 4km/h over the limit.

http://www.police.govt.nz/advice/driving-and-road-safety/speed-limits-ca...

Do you think that police changing tolerance levels seemingly at a whim - last Xmas and New Year police reduced the open road speed tolerance from 10kmh to 4kmh - gives drivers confidence that police know what's best? As mentioned above, councils across the country can change speed limits in their regions, which has a certain arbitrariness about it. What if one council is more tolerant than another?

If police are saying that we won't ticket you if you drive at 110kmh, aren't they really saying that it is safe to drive at that speed? If so, why not simply change the speed limit on certain roads to 110kmh?

I'd rather see zero tolerance but at the same time I'd like to see higher (or lower) speed limits on certain roads.

by Ross on June 13, 2016
Ross

last Xmas and New Year police reduced the open road speed tolerance from 10kmh to 4kmh

From personal experience, I was ticketed last December going - I think - 105kmh on a modern motorway (with median barrier) in one of our largest cities. If I'd been going the same speed the previous December, I wouldn't have been ticketed. That sort of inconsistency doesn't inspire confidence in police.

by Ross on June 13, 2016
Ross

 If I'd been going the same speed the previous December, I wouldn't have been ticketed

Or maybe I would have, but in November I wouldn't have!

by Rich on June 14, 2016
Rich

(1) A Green Party Minister instructs the Commissioner to tell police not to intervene in any environmental protests against coal/oil/whatever;

(2) A Labour Party Minister instructs the Commissioner to tell police not to intervene in any union pickets blocking access to places of business;

(3) A National Party Minister instructs the Commissioner to tell police not to take action against trucking companies that exceed the maximum hours for drivers/weight limits/etc.

But, in each case (but maybe not any of those) it could be the police, at Commissioner level or below, making such decisions. And this happens: breaches of electoral law are frequently ignored by police, guidelines on diversion are treated very liberally (if not totally ignored) in the case of a recent well-known blogger and then there is the free pass habitually granted to prominent sportsmen on violence charges.

I'd suggest that in any workable legal system, there has to be an element of discretion in how or whether to proceed with charges at the lower end of culpability. *Somebody* has to apply that discretion - and I'd doubt that a policeman is likely to be any more unprejudiced in doing so than a politician.

As noted, one could codify this. There could be a clause in road traffic law providing that speeds below 110% of the limit would not be actionable absent aggravating circumstances - but how would such a law be enforced? 

by Andrew Geddis on June 15, 2016
Andrew Geddis

But, in each case (but maybe not any of those) it could be the police, at Commissioner level or below, making such decisions.

Yes. Because we treat policing as being a specialist discipline in which those with experience and knowledge of the subject area can be relied on to do a better job than a Minister making overtly political decisions to placate an influential sectorial interest group/curry general favour with the public. Just as, for instance, we treat drug buying as a specialist procedure that Pharmac ought to carry out free from political interference. Or we hand over (effective) power to set interest rates to the Reserve Bank rather than permit the Minister of Finance to manipulate these for political ends.

Of course, that doesn't mean that the Commissioner of Police (or Pharmac, or the Reserve Bank Governor) are completely free from "prejudice", or always get it right. Rather, it is a recognition that there are some areas of social decision making where control by elected politicians responding to overtly political incentives is not likely to produce optimal results. 

 

by Charlie on June 19, 2016
Charlie

Andrew:....policing as being a specialist discipline in which those with experience and knowledge of the subject area can be relied on to do a better job than a Minister

I suspect a significant factor in becoming a policeman is failing science at high school level.

 

 

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