Editor’s Note: I can understand why the document referred to in this article has been leaked to social media. It reveals how the NZ Police are abusing powers given to them for another purpose to spy on ordinary New Zealanders doing ordinary, completely legal things.
It gives me no pleasure to report that NZ Police are abusing the trust we placed in them, no pleasure at all.
They’ve been caught circulating a document outlining actions requested to be taken by parties to the goAML reporting system, which includes all NZ-based banks and government entities.
In respect of the anniversary of the 2019 atrocity, our Police Force issued a memo on Feb 27th advising those parties to “beware” of certain “financial indicators” which may present evidence of “transactions that are common in the extreme right wing community”, “especially over the coming weeks”.
Issued by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) the document exhorts banks and other financial providers to be on alert for particular transactions, and that’s fair enough.
Formed in response to international terrorism cartels and child-pornography rings, legislators around the world called for the formation of policing units to cut off the money flow to these despicable outfits, by kneecapping their financial base, inhibiting their enterprise using financial fingerprinting and document-chasing.
I have no problem with that and applaud the initiative in pursuing its stated goals.
But I do have a problem with the 27th Feb memo, in terms of NZ Police’s over-reach in information gathering and their heavy-handed response to being caught out, their reaction to having a little sunlight expose their thinking, and the threats they issued to those who chose to highlight this current abuse of police power as outlined in the Herald article of 7 March:
“Detective Inspector Craig Hamilton said police were aware that the document was being circulated on social media and warned that distributing it was an illegal activity.
Hamilton, the national manager of the financial crime group, said police were making inquiries to determine how it made its way online.
“This document is Police property and is subject to Section 50 of the Policing Act 2008, and anyone found to have unlawfully distributed it, or found in unlawful possession of it, can be prosecuted,” Hamilton said.
I do not have possession of the document in question, nor have I shared it, but I have seen it and read it, not on any “white-supremacist” site as alleged by the NZ Herald, but on outlets disturbed and disappointed that such a thing could be happening in one of the increasingly few countries considered bastions of democracy and freedom in the modern world; our own beautiful place.
My chagrin is not directed to the particular enunciated red-flags in the memo surrounding possibly suspicious transactions (those which I would never repeat) but the wholesale advocacy for reporting and implicitly demonising perfectly neutral transactions: a function, I believe, that was never, ever, intended on such a scale by either international or domestic law-makers in conceiving these observational arrangements.
The Feb 27th memo states:
“The presence of these indicators should encourage further monitoring and reporting where appropriate.”
Of which “indicators” the twelve point memo expressly includes:
- “Purchases at firearms retailers/gun stores”
Police and the Coalition have already demonised legal and law-abiding gun-owners (I am not amongst them) following March 15th 2019. But this new memo is taking things to a whole new level ,suggesting any transaction at all regarding firearms or the care, protection, maintenance or improvement thereof, should lead to further investigation of the individuals concerned. It is beyond the pale.
- “Transactions at military memorabilia and army surplus stores”
You must be kidding. It would be laughable if it weren’t so chilling. NZ Police are seriously suggesting “further monitoring” is justified if a hunter bags a bargain on some camo’ at a surplus store or if you or I grab a replica NZ Cross? Wow.
And even worse, much worse, Worser, if you like:
- “Multiple transactions at flag shops and/or customisable printing stores (t-shirts, stickers, posters etc.)
Good Lord; NZ Police, have you lost your collective mind? Honestly? “Multiple transactions” at the screen-printers? NZP seems to be seriously advocating that this activity should open someone up to further investigation, and “encourage further monitoring and reporting where appropriate.” Who the hell thought that up? The office idiot?
I accept that the memo document shouldn’t be publicly shared due to its notification of selected transactions identified within as ‘red-flags’, but the corralling of activity almost all of us have undertaken at some point in our lives as worthy “of further monitoring and reporting” is simply ridiculous, and stupid, and will in no way enhance our preparedness for or protect against another atrocity committed by a lone muppet bent on killing innocents.
Hey! NZ Police! Have you heard? Psychopathically unhinged assassins cross the road, they eat lunch too, why not ‘monitor’ all the hordes caught carrying out a similar activity, there’s bound to be a wrong’un amongst ‘em? Perhaps even a true-blue homicidal maniac?
NZ Police have over-reached here, folks, and far from threatening they should be apologising. This memo is ridiculous in its Kafka-esque summary implication of wrongdoing by ordinary people doing ordinary things going about their ordinary lives. The powers relied on in issuing such directives were never intended to be a trawl-net of innocent activity to be examined under the “extreme” magnifying glass.
I never thought I’d see the day NZ Police would encourage such intrusiveness upon the good people of this country going about their business, doing nothing wrong.
What a fool am I?
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