Police Minister Anne Tolley has asked for an independent investigation into the police handling of the Roast Busters sex case, saying it has been "poorly handled".
Four girls have come forward over incidents involving the Roast Busters group, police confirmed today after earlier saying there had been no formal complaints. Three girls came forward in 2011 and one girl came forward in 2012, police said.
Of the four one girl had gone through the process of making her complaint formal via an evidential video interview. The girls were aged between 13 and 15.
The Roast Busters are a group of Auckland youths, understood to be aged 17 and 18, who allegedly had group sex with drunk teenage girls and bragged about it online.
Tolley said she had written to the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) and asked them to investigate the Auckland case, particularly the questioning of a 13-year-old girl in 2011.
"The last three days, it has been poorly handled," Tolley said.
The minister said she would want the IPCA to look at claims that police asked the victim what kind of clothes she was wearing.
"Parents of young girls need to have confidence that complaints to police about sexual assault are investigated thoroughly and appropriately," she said.
Tolley met with Police Commissioner Peter Marshall this morning. She said he had assured her that the inquiry had been thorough and that there was a comprehensive investigation into the victim's complaint.
"However, I have made it clear to the commissioner that I am disappointed that the full facts have not been available to me or to him.
"I don't expect to be told finer details of police operations. Police must remain independent of politicians. But I do expect police to be talking to each other.''
There certainly seems to be a pattern of information not being passed up the Police's chain of command, and that is one aspect that the IPCA will investigate. From interviews we have heard with Mrs Tolley and Police Commissioner Peter Marshall this morning it is apparent that both Marshall and Waitemata district commander Superintendent Bill Searle have not been given all the information by their subordinates. That is unacceptable.
Mrs Tolley acknowledges that as Minister, she walks a delicate path:
Tolley said as a minister she could not delve into the details of a police investigation.
"But the IPCA does have the power to carry out an independent assessment of the details surrounding these events, and I believe this is the right course of action to ensure the public has confidence in the police on this matter.
"I would again urge any young women who have been affected to come forward and talk to police as a first step in gathering evidence which can be used to bring people to justice."
It would be utterly improper for Mrs Tolley to be delving into the operational detail of the allegations surrounding the Roast Busters. The IPCA is independent of the police, and its chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers is a respected District Court Judge. The IPCA's investigation will be thorough, and if its findings are adverse to the Police, so be it.
Here's hoping that there will be a positive outcome to this whole sordid business; that if crimes are established, offenders are bought to justice, and if there have been shortcomings in the Police procedures they are identified, and strong action is taken to remedy them.