High Court Judge Paul Davidson has declared that the police practise of issuing formal warnings (20,000 over the last decade) are illegal. He is wrong.

The fact that no law covers this doesn’t make it illegal. It’s a practise driven by pragmaticism.

The vast bulk of human activities are not covered by law. Having an egg for breakfast is not specifically covered as a legal activity but doing so does not constitute a crime.

Police formal warnings apply to minor infringements that are illegal but have caused no harm and don’t warrant the trouble of pursuing, so long as the offender now desists.

That can be raucous public behaviour, exceeding the speed limit, and a vast number of public nuisance type behaviour.

Where the Judge had a point was condemning the Police maintaining a record of such warnings which can have on-going detrimental effects on people, such as with employment. But he’s still wrong, so long as the details of the warning offence and the dates of them are also recorded.

The last thing we want to see is our already over-burdened police force pursuing through the courts, what are no more than petty offences.

If Justice Davidson’s declaration is to prevail we will have either that situation or worse, specifically the Police turning a blind eye to offences that have the potential to get out of hand.

The Judge also asserted the practise is akin to a conviction without trial. That is nonsense as no conviction is being pursued, which is the very point of formal warnings.

But obviously if someone objected to receiving a formal warning they’re free to pursue it through the courts.

The Police should appeal this silly declaration for everyone’s sake.


Wait to hate speech kicks off and see what happens – ongoing warning will gag all of us whether we are approached by the police or not.

    This is what has happened in the UK with their so called hate speech laws.
    Over there every complaint, including those by the uninvolved but permanently offended, is recorded as a hate incident. Say “women don’t have penises” and you can expect a visit from the Thought Police and your name goes down on the accessible hate list regardless of conviction or even if it doesn’t qualify for prosecution at all.
    Jacinda & Co have modelled our proposed new laws on the UK’s.
    Violent and gun crime sharply up but the police will be preoccupied with this BS?

As I read it the objection was to those records being used in subsequent assessments of character for third parties.

In those circumstances it did amount to both prosecution and judgement – as such clearly unsafe.

Agreed. The Judge has missed the point, which is to AVOID a conviction-and realistically if these warnings are to have any use they need to be kept for (at least) some period.
Its only natural for a Judge to give a strictly legal opinion, but it reeks of “otherwordliness” in which his honor forgets that most things in life really aren’t decided on a finer point of law.

If the point is to not have a conviction then at the very least records of such warnings should not be publicly available.If they are then they are effectively a conviction notice.

50 years ago I was minding my own business riding a motorcycle through Orewa, a dog darted across the road and under the front wheel killing itself. The ambulance and police turned up, I was uninjured but it was the first day Orewa had their first ambulance and I was their first case so it created a stir. I wasn’t speeding but the police issued a warning anyway based on no evidence. It still rankles to this day.

In the UK the police have recently been told to stop recording hate speech incidents that didnt result in charges and court.
The reason is the impact on people getting jobs and the increase in unemployment payments.

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