On the beat: Thanks, once again… 

My column is fast developing a theme of gratitude. It goes to show the depth of our community’s involvement and willingness to assist the Police. Today I have another story to tell.

Last Friday we received a report of a vehicle driving dangerously on Victoria Street, Cambridge. It was followed by a concerned caller until it reached the Lakewood development in town. I located and stopped the vehicle nearby.

Unfortunately, as they sometimes do, the situation deteriorated.

A member of the public recognised this and stepped in to physically assist my colleague and I, as we were restraining the driver in very difficult circumstances. I appreciated his quick assessment of our situation and the valuable assistance which prevented further risk.

On another topic, this week I want to talk to you about Official Information Requests. From time to time, people require access to information held on by Police or other Government agencies.  The Official Information Act (OIA) gives New Zealand citizens, permanent residents and those visiting in New Zealand the right to request a copy of official information held. When it comes to Official Information, this relates to reports, memos, letters, notes, advice and emails, recordings and computer records.  The Ministry of Justice (www.justice.govt.nz) has a handy directory which you can use to ensure you approach the correct agency.

A couple of common examples of reasons people may need to make an OIA to Police are to get information about incidents in which they have been involved to support a court order application, or to obtain information about incidents in which company vehicles that they own have been involved.

When making an OIA request, you will need to be very specific as to what information you are wanting and the reason why you require it.  Applications can be made online or by downloading a PDF form which you can then complete, post or email.

Not all information requires an OIA request however. You can request your criminal record through the Ministry of Justice. If you are a defendant in a court case, you are entitled to information about your case under the Criminal Disclosure Act. (You or your lawyer should contact the Officer in Charge of your case in the first instance). Information about your driving licence demerit point tally can be made through the NZTA. Information relating to a traffic infringement (tickets) that you have received can be made through Police Infringement Services. To request a traffic crash report where you are directly involved, you may make a request to Police under the Privacy Act 1993. In most cases above, the queries can be submitted online. Visit www.police.govt.nz for further information.

Until next week, stay safe.

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