Operation 8: The Incompetence of Police Intelligence

Read the complete analysis of alleged Maori terrorism in the Urewera

The Intelligence capacity of the NZ Police on and before October 15th 2007

In previous articles I have questioned the competence and professionalism of Police Intelligence in Operation 8. I will continue to do so.

Since Operation 8 the NZ Police Force has completely overhauled its Intelligence capability under the direction of R Mark Evans, an intelligence professional hired just before the Ruatoki raids were launched. He was hired to design and implement a professional intelligence framework that did not previously exist. Now that Evans has introduced his new intelligence framework police intelligence analysts are required to be formally qualified with the National Diploma in Intelligence Analysis. That is one clear indicator of the previous shortcomings of police intelligence. The diploma and other intelligence qualifications were developed in cooperation with Massey University as part of the program to create a professional intelligence capability (see a future essay “Intelligence in an Intellectual Activity“).

I draw the information for this article from:

  • Patrick F. Walsh (2011), “Intelligence and Intelligence Analysis”, Routledge UK.
  • Patrick F. Walsh (2011), “The Future of Intelligence: fusion or fragmentation”, in The Journal of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers, Vol 19, Number 1.

Mr Walsh is a senior lecturer (criminal intelligence) at the Australian Graduate School of Policing, Charles Sturt University, Australia. He is a Board member of the Australian Institute of Professional Intelligence Officers (AIPIO) and is managing editor of the AIPIO Journal.

In both publications Mr Walsh draws upon interviews with Mr Mark Evans who was recruited from Northern Ireland in September 2007, one month before Operation 8, to establish and to lead a professional Intelligence framework and capability within the NZ Police. Walsh uses the development of the NZ Police Intelligence framework as a case study in his scholarly works on Intelligence.

In an interview on 10 August 2010 Mr Evans is quoted as saying on pages 117 & 118 of the first reference:

“Management had little (or isolated) knowledge of what intelligence could do for crime and crash reduction. Whilst examples of excellent intelligence products did exist, there were no minimum standards and many lacked focus and credibility with police decision-makers. There was a lack of what intelligence meant or was intended for”.

Walsh reports on page 118 that a business case for a national intelligence development project was approved by the NZ Police Executive and:

“ … in September 2007 Mark Evans was appointed (initially on secondment, later permanently) from the Police Service of Northern Ireland to lead the project. A National Intelligence Office (NIO) was quickly established and set out ‘15 project deliverables’, which formed the basis of an initial 12-month action plan. In October 2008, following extensive review and consultation, the Police Executive endorsed one ‘NZ Police Intelligence Framework’ and approved the creation of a Police National Intelligence Centre at Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) to lead its strategic development”.

Walsh reports that from October 2008 widespread changes were introduced in tasking and coordination, intelligence collection, and analysis and production. He writes in relation to analysis and production that:

“ … the new framework has resulted in some major changes to the way the NZP assesses and produces intelligence. In 2009, the NZP invested heavily in the recruitment of 14 District Managers: Intelligence (DMIs) (in addition to the 12 Districts, DMIs were also appointed for Auckland Metro and AMCOS) at Inspector level (or police employee equivalent). This has provided, for the first time, a clearly identifiable ‘professional head of intelligence’ across every district. The DMIs have mostly been selected for their change management and people skills, rather than purely technical intelligence skills. The DMIs are responsible for leading the local development of improved standards in Intelligence (including the analysis component). They will also have an important role in ‘bedding down’ much of the new intelligence doctrine arising out of the new framework. They are supported by a new Manager: Analytical Services position at the NIC that is the de facto Head of Analysis for the organisation.

“In November 2009, the Police Executive endorsed additional improvements to enhance the analytical capabilities of the NZP under the new framework, including the NZP Professional Development in Intelligence Programme (PDIP). Evans notes that: ‘The PDIP is designed to redefine the intelligence workforce (so that is more visible, flexible, competent, frontline focused and effective)”.

Walsh also reports that resources are being invested in technology to support analytical work. He concludes with a resume of the successes achieved and challenges faced in the implementation of the NZ Police Intelligence Framework.

In a discussion on the effectiveness of the New Zealand implementation of intelligence led policing Walsh writes (Ref1, p136):

“The final area where there has been some early success has been the establishment of a professional development in intelligence programme to support the development of intelligence analysis within the new framework. There may be some resistance among intelligence staff, who are used to working in familiar ways to different standards, and this will require careful management. But already the articulation and development of improved analytical training, and creating career paths for analysts, demonstrate some early successes for this framework”.

The information sourced from Mr Evans and others clearly indicates that prior to his appointment in September 2007, one month prior to Operation 8, the NZ Police did not have a professional and competent Intelligence capability. Indeed the new Intelligence Framework was not approved until October 2008, and implementation did not begin until after that date.

It also indicates that there was much room for improvement and for the setting of professional standards in the area of intelligence analysis.

Resourcing the Operation 8 intelligence process

It is obvious that considerable resources in manpower, time and technology were committed to the collection of information during Operation 8. This is evident in the number of policemen and detectives who were assigned to collection, and who provided evidence. It is also evident from the large number of technological surveillance warrants obtained and in the prosecution evidence.

What is not obvious are what resources, both in staff numbers and capability, were committed to the much more important task of analysis. However it would seem from the quality of the product of that analysis that the Auckland Special Investigation Group led by Detective Inspector Bruce Good and Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was under resourced in manpower, intellect, expertise and competence.

I have reached that conclusion after reading through thousands of pages of police evidence including affidavits, applications for warrants, warrants and briefs of evidence. In my time as an iintelligence analyst, admittedly over 35 years ago, the standard of work in all of that documentation would have been totally unacceptable. Some of that work will be scrutinised in later posts.

I am sure that little of it would reach the standards required today by Mark Evans’ new police intelligence framework and by the National Diploma in Intelligence Analysis, although the much lower standard does seem to be acceptable in the everyday work of the criminal detective. The work of the detective is to investigate crime after the fact whereas the work of the intelligence analyst is to predict crime. The latter requires a much higher level of intellect and training.

It would seem also from the comments by Walsh and Evans that the intelligence capability at Police National Headquarters, under Assistant Commissioner (Intelligence) Jon White, was less than optimal.

Since October 2008 considerable training and resources have been committed to building a professional intelligence analysis capability and one can only presume that it did not exist prior to October 2008. It was certainly not evident during Operation 8 from December 2005 to 15th October 2007.

Links: The Operation 8 Series