Data withheld to stymie research

A university lecturer and author of an award winning book on the history of patched gangs in New Zealand who has had requests for information denied by police is owed both an explanation and apology, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.

“Jarrod Gilbert is known in academic circles around the world for his work on gang culture and is a trustee of the New Zealand Public Interest Project which investigates mistakes in the justice system.

“He has not only had requests for basic data refused by police, he has had access to his own police file denied, and been told he would not be getting information unless a contract was signed that gives police access to draft research reports, and to 'improve its outcomes' if the report is considered 'negative'.

“That’s extremely concerning.

“Whether coincidence or not he has also been critical of the way the Government has used statistics in the past – most recently taking it to task over it publishing inaccurate crime figures.

“Whether public interest in withholding the information outweighs the public interest in its disclosure is surely not the issue here.

“What is at stake is the ability of researchers to carry out their work. Jarrod Gilbert’s work is producing research with practical applications for our justice system.

“We cannot form good justice policy or have decent research in this field if this is the attitude of police to the data they hold.

“Transparency is essential and Mr Gilbert is owed an explanation,” Jacinda Ardern says.