In May 2018, a journalist from TVNZ requested the release of footage of the Police tasering a goat.
The Police refused the request basing their decision to refuse on s9(2) (c) of the OIA that the refusal was necessary to “avoid prejudice to measures protecting the health and safety of members of the Public”.
This matter was then referred to the Chief Ombudsman, who sought clarification from the police as to the precise ‘measure’ protecting health and safety that would be prejudiced by disclosure.
The Police replied that the material contained confronting scenes of a distressed animal and that publication of it could cause psychological harm and distress to some viewers. They further considered that airing the footage might breach broadcasting standards.
In his report, the Chief Ombudsman rejected these arguments and in doing so considered the Danks Committee’s comments in respect of s9(2)(c). It was apparent that the type of information s9(2)(c) was designed to protect were far reaching and time-sensitive measures such as disaster disease control. The concerns of the Police in this instance did not come within the ambit of section 9(2)(c).
Neither s9(2)(c) nor any other section of the OIA justified withholding the information. The footage was release to the requester on 26 July 2018.