Dealing with the Police

by The FindLaw Team

Talking to the Police

You may be approached by the police for a variety of reasons. Solving a crime requires the gathering of evidence and statements from witnesses. Most people are happy to help out, but if you are concerned about your potential involvement, it pays to keep a few things in mind.

First, it is wise never to treat any discussion as “off-the-record”. In any event, if your involvement is important, you might be later required to give evidence in court and could be heavily questioned if your answers are inconsistent.

Secondly, a person who creates reasonable belief in the officer's mind of having committed certain offences, such as, for example, being in possession of drugs, possessing alcohol in a liquor ban area, possessing an offensive weapon such as a fire-arm, or a person who is in transit and whom the officer has reasonable grounds to believe has property that has been stolen or unlawfully obtained, could entitle the officer to search, depending on the situation in question, either that person, the premises they are occupying, or their property such as their bags and car in certain instances, without the need for the police to have a search warrant. Should this occur, it is important to remain calm and note the time, date and identities of the police officers present. You should also contact a lawyer (or a close friend or relative who can contact a lawyer to act on your behalf). In most situations, however, the police cannot search either you, unless you let them or you are arrested, or your property, unless you let them or there is a search warrant.

On a more practical level, if the police ask you for your name or residential address, there is probably little use in withholding this information. In some instances it may actually be an offence not to disclose it, such as, for example, where you are stopped at the side of the road and asked to verify your driver’s license, WOF, registration, safety of your car or to participate in random alcohol and drug tests.

Reporting a crime

If you've been the victim of a crime or think you have witnessed one, you should report it to the police straight away. Your information could be used to prevent other crimes and help keep other people safe. Find out about the different ways of reporting a crime.

Dialling 111

If you’ve:

  • been mugged, badly hurt, or attacked in any way;
  • just seen a serious crime being committed, which has placed people and /or property at serious risk; or
  • been a witness or victim to a crime that is being committed or has just been committed and the perpetrators of the crime are nearby,

then you should ring 111 as soon as possible.

Your call will be answered as soon as possible. After asking you whether you require the Fire, Ambulance or Police service, a trained operator will ask you to describe where the emergency is, what your phone number is and what has happened. They may ask if you need any other emergency services, such as an ambulance.

If the situation is an emergency, a police officer will come to the scene to talk to you. They'll ask you to explain what happened, and they can help you decide what to do next.

Reporting non-emergency crimes

If you want to report a minor crime, such as a stolen mobile phone, or a incident or crime that has happened in the past, you should go to your nearest police station to report it, or call your local police force.

By not using 111 for minor crimes, you're making sure that people in genuine emergency situations can reach the police quickly.

Non-emergency crimes can include:

  • vandalism
  • graffiti
  • abandoned cars
  • pick-pocketing

Giving a statement

You may be asked to give a statement to the police. That means that you’ll have to tell an officer what happened to you or what you saw.

They may ask you questions or ask you to repeat yourself to make sure the statement is as accurate and as detailed as possible.

When you've finished giving a statement, the police will usually read it back to you to make sure that their written account matches yours.

How to report crime anonymously

If you want to report a crime that has been, or is being or about to be committed, but you do not want to be identified to the police, call Crimestoppers. Crimestoppers NZ is an independent charity working to solve and prevent crime.

Crimestoppers staff will record your information and pass it on to the police so that it can be used to solve the crime.

Your call will not be traced, and you won't have to testify in court or give a full statement, no matter how useful the information turns out to be.

Visit Crimestoppers on the web at: www.crimestoppers-nz.org and complete an anonymous on-line form, or phone on 0800 555 111.



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