By far the most traffic to this site is through internet searches for "how to write a letter . . .". People are looking for information on how to write letters of complaint, how to write an affidavit in support of someone, how to write a letter requesting information, etc. So in response to these enquiries we will be focussing on how to write effective letters - although no matter how professional your letter is, government departments, the Police and other organisations are increasingly acting in bad faith regarding these requests, and in some cases you'll have to consider getting a Court order for the information, as I had to do recently.
Firstly, if anyone has the misfortune to be charged with an offence by the Police, particularly if it's a serious charge, they should instruct their lawyer to write a copy of the letter below to the Police Prosecutor - write it yourself if your lawyer won't - and deliver it to the Police station marked "Attention - Prosecution section". The letter should be addressed to the relevant police station, this one was addressed to:
The Officer in Charge
P O Box 443
Re: CRN number [insert Court file number, and full name of relevant person (person charged)]
Please provide to the writer the following details and information in accordance with the Official Information Act 1982 as set out in Commissioner of Police v Ombudsman (1988) 1 NZLR 385 and information pursuant to your Common Law Duties as set out in R v Mason (1976) 2 NZLR 122 and R v Wickliffe (1987) NZLR 55:
1. All Police job sheets completed by any Police Officer in connection with this case.
2. Briefs of evidence of all prosecution witnesses.
3. All statements made to the Police by potential prosecution witnesses including copies of any video interviews or any other recordings whatsoever.
4. All statements or utterances made by the Defendant whether recorded or committed to memory or otherwise preserved whether or not signed or acknowledged by the defendant, and including copies of all video interviews made with the Defendant.
5. The names and addresses of all witnesses to be called against the Defendant.
6. The names and addresses of all people interviewed by the Police who can give evidence upon matters that may be helpful to the defence whether the Prosecutor considers such person or persons credit-worthy or not.
7. Details of previous convictions of prosecution witnesses including any other matters that may impeach their characters.
8. Details of any physical exhibits including those to be produced at the preliminary hearing and those not to be produced.
9. Details of all expert reports including reports of technicians, laboratory assistants and all material relevant to forensic enquiries carried out at the behest of the prosecution.
10. Copies of any documentary exhibits which may be produced at the hearing including copies of all video recorded interviews of the defendant and any other person interviewed concerning the matter presently at issue.
11. The name and address of each identification witness known to the Prosecutor whether or not the Prosecutor intends to call that witness to give evidence at the hearing.
12. A statement of any description of the offender given by each such witness to the Police or the Prosecutor.
13. A copy of any identikit picture or other drawing made by any such witness or from information supplied by them.
14. Any other matters that appear to be in the interests of justice.
This request is a continuing one so that if any information comes to your attention in any of the categories listed above after your receipt of this letter than such information should be disclosed as if it had been on your file when this request was initially made.
If you are not prepared to disclose any information to us, could you please indicate what that information is and why it is not being disclosed.
To request information under either the Privacy Act or the Official Information Act, start by actually reading these Acts, particularly who they apply to, what agencies, how to complain etc. (Part 8 of the Privacy Act for example). Read about who the Act applies to, how to make a request and the reasons why the request might lawfully be refused, and word your request accordingly.
You should receive a response within ten days, and the information within 21 (working days).
If you have a problem that needs dealing with, or a dispute of any kind it's always advisable to look at the relevant governing legislation, who administers that Act or Regulation or Rule, (central or local government, the Ombudsmen, various Ministers, Auditor General,
More examples of letter writing are all over this site, some of the letters from lawyers are well worth using as templates and guides, in particular the letters of lawyers Ken Daniels (who wrote the letter above,) and Michael Appleby.
Information regarding a new service offering free legal advice is at this link.
This site, FYI, is a very useful resource for anyone considering making Official Information requests, with many examples of letters, and the responses, Transparency NZ strongly encourages people to use this site when making requests for information, and share the request and the response for all to see, following the instructions at the site to maintain your confidentiality if required.
It's often a good idea when dealing with a government agency (or other applicable 'agent') to make a request for all information about yourself or a particular matter under the Privacy Act, or the Official Information Act. First, read the Acts and check that the agent is specified as being under the jurisdiction of the Act (who the Act applies to), then read reasons why information can be legitimately declined and word your request carefully and simply and make it public on the site at the link in the paragraph above if possible so that all can see how it is responded to, and consider making a blog and documenting the correspondence, and the evidence of how people in powerful positions will blatantly lie and say a file does not exist or the extraordinarily delusional allegations of the previous Principal of the school, Rodney O'Leary, that the police had charged me with an offence involving a child - these are blatant and deliberate lies, and they demonstrate that the recipients of our letters know no shame, and are prepared to lie through their teeth in the face of the evidence - and commit perjury, as O'Leary did, and so many others in the Wairarapa - NZ Police refer to head office as "Bullshit Castle", and local Wairarapa police are the most despised in New Zealand - referred to as the withering arm of the Wellington policing region. It's important to realise just how dysfunctional some of these organisations really are.
"Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers released a progress report on whether police were changing their culture after the 2007 commission of inquiry into police conduct, which was led by Dame Margaret Bazley.
The report found there was little confidence among police that "concerning" staff behaviour would be detected, and no action was being taken over poor-performing senior staff at police headquarters.
"The commissioner and all his inspector mates in bullshit castle at headquarters should get back on the street and get a reality check," one officer told PricewaterhouseCoopers."
The most common mistake people make is assuming that their request will be dealt with in good faith. Experience shows that invariably correspondents are fobbed off with one of a list of common excuses. It's worse if you deal with matters over the telephone, get everything in writing, and use the Privacy Act to get it if necessary. If possible, make your request through the FYI site, do NOT give up - that's what they count on, you giving up because it's too hard to carry on. Unite with FYI and Transparency NZ and publicise the pathetic excuses and damning information.
MAF's attempted cover up of gross incompetence (the sale of four horses infected with a disease which MAF scientists at the National Centre for Disease Investigation had classified as "an unknown organism with the potential to cause major international trade disruption" to a local meat works, which was an agent for another meat works which exported a considerable amount of horse meat to Europe for human consumption - right before the outbreak of FMD in England in 2001, is a classic example:
"Well Nicci I suppose as Finola said, we weren't ever going to write the perfect script. Just one step at a time to shut down as many avenues as possible."
"In terms of the animal ethics issue, if you and Hugh feel there is any legal risk if she were to take up an issue, I would move to deal with it, otherwise just ignore it again."
"She rang Rhoda today (Thursday).
Having talked with Vicki Bee, George Capes, Hugh and Grant, I told Rhonda to try and fob her off "
"Unfortunately she threatened to go to the papers, so I spoke to her"This is the idea behind Gary McPhee's 'petition' to get an "unsworn" police staff member at the Carterton station, a glorified bit of fluff to laugh at the local corrupt officers' jokes and make them cups of coffee and spin bull shite like this to anyone asking questions or trying to make a complaint.
Then there's the manager of the police communications centre, Wayne Ewers, who, when I asked for the recording of the call to 111 made by two witnesses to a violent home invasion attack on me in my home (after corrupt local Constable Peter Cunningham lied and said no attack had taken place) - Ewers actually wrote to me and said:
"According to the Privacy Act you are not entitled to information created by other people."- Which is a deliberate and blatant LIE. The manager of the police communications centre knows perfectly well what the Privacy Act says - and it doesn't say that at all! That's why you should always read the legislation (all the laws and regulations etc are at that link).
This is how your taxes are being spent, and that's why I established Transparency NZ, to show people who didn't believe me. The Hansard report shows more absolute lies, while the records of the experiment - BOTH sets, the forged set and the original set - show indisputably that the horses MAF sold to the meat works were infected and displaying symptoms of the "unidentified disease with the potential to cause major international trade disruption".
Then there's the INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE of the deliberately corrupt responses of senior Police to the allegations regarding the fraud and gross malfeasance at the Carterton District Council:
"RE: CARTERTON COMMUNITY CENTRE ASSETS
I refer to your letter dated 23 July 2003 seeking Police intervention to prevent the disposal of assets.The issue around the election of officers and the administration of the Carterton Community Centre has been addressed in previous correspondence.
The New Zealand Police are not the authority charged with the responsibility of regulating the activities of Community Committees.
I am aware that the Carterton District Council members, the Carterton Mayor and MP Georgina Beyer have recently discussed issues around the closing of the centre.
In such circumstances the actions of the 'elected' officers of the centre are highly unlikely to have breached any Criminal Law.
The Police have no authority to intervene as you request.
(Signed) R T Drew,Area Commander Wairarapa"
- This wasn't just a complaint about disposal of assets! This was a number of complaints regarding serious criminal offences including assault and fraud! Compared to the letter from Sgt Reid at that link it's obvious that this is politically motivated police corruption, as noted by lawyers such as Ken Daniels and Michael Appleby. Note the semi literate rubbish - the capitalisation of "Community Committees" - the complaint was regarding an Incorporated Society (and District Council) as well as specific named named individuals who had committed specific individual criminal offences! - and "Criminal Law" - this is exactly like the lies told by Inspector Wayne Ewers - "According to the Privacy Act you are not entitled to information created by other people" - what utter rubbish! These are blatant lies - these senior public servants know full well that they are deliberate lies - and it appears that the more you're prepared to lie to the public, the taxpayers, and the more corrupt you are, the better your chance of promotion in the NZ public service these days.
The key is unity, and constructive action - join the FOCKCers, Friends of Caring Kiwi Communities, incorporating Transparency NZ and Let's Get Growing NZ, establishing community resource centres and community gardens and a strong and enduring community network to withstand any political climate. Reporting the local news fairly, sharing information constructively, exposing taxpayer funded incompetence and corruption.