What are the ‘Roast Busters’?
The Roast Busters is the name a group of young men based in Auckland gave themselves when they started a group based around the premise of meeting young women and having group/sex with them. It is alleged that this group engaged in gang rape and other coercive sexual activity involving alcohol and underage girls. The group maintained a Facebook group which they allegedly used to source victims and brag about the assaults. You can read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roast_Busters_scandal
What did the Independent Police Conduct Authority find?
On 19 March 2015 the Independent Police Conduct Authority released the report on it's investigation into Police handling of the complaints laid in relation to the 'Roast Busters' case. The Authority found that the victims in these cases were let down by the Police and identified a number of deficiencies in investigative practices.
The Authority was concerned that in several of the cases, because officers concluded that there was insufficient evidence to proceed without the cooperation of the young women, they decided that no further action was required. The Authority also found that investigating staff failed to consider all available offences when determining the outcome of their respective investigations, and that there were options to prosecute that weren’t explored, let alone discussed with the victims.
Now that the review has found that there were charges that the police failed to adequately consider, it's time for the police to revisit their decision not to lay any charges.
What about the survivors? What if they don't want to give evidence or go to court? Shouldn't we leave them alone?
The investigation could be reopened without the victims needing to lodge new or additional complaints as Police policy says that they don't need to have a complaint in order to pursue sexual assault charges. that those girls and young women do not have to be involved in any further investigations.
Police have discretion to pursue prosecution, especially in cases where it's in the public interest and where children are involved (the youngest known victim was 13 when she came forward to Police in 2011). Our understanding is that the seven young women were told they'd have to go to court for anything to happen, and that the IPCA have now said that this isn't necessarily the case.
What happened last time the Police investigated?
On Wednesday 29 October NZ Police released their decision not to press charges in “Operation Clover” (the Roast Busters investigation) due to lack of evidence. Many New Zealanders are outraged. ActionStation is working to channel this outrage to make long lasting change and ensure that these survivors, and other survivors who wish to come forward, find justice within the justice system. We need to act now while the issue is still making headlines and force our decision makers to review what’s gone wrong here.
But the police can’t just make up evidence?
Absolutely not. And it’s great that the case remains open should any of the young women and girls choose to take it to court. But we agree with the Independent Police Conduct Authority's finding that there were a number of charges that could have been laid that were not considered and ought to have been.
What difference can a petition make?
Petitions have been shown to be successful on the topic of sexual violence. Our own petition of almost 8000 members helped bring pressure on the government to ensure that there was a truly independent review of the Roast Busters case. Other petitions have help stopped closures of sexual violence services like Auckland HELP and made big noise at Parliament with Jessie Hume’s petition of over 100,00 kiwis against the Roast Busters which almost certainly contributed to a sexual violence service funding boost.
We hope that our petition will do two things:
Pressure decision makers into investigating (and remedying) a system that has let down the victims of the Roast Busters.
Send a signal to the Roast Busters survivors and other survivors of sexual assault that thousands of New Zealanders support their right to justice.
Surely this case is just part of a bigger issue?
Absolutely. Statistically 1 in 4 NZ women will experience sexual violence. There has been lots of investigation into how to make the justice system more effective and accessible for survivors of sexual violence who choose to come forward. We hope our petition can be a small but important step towards improvements.