Police OK with corporate manslaughter | The Jackal

17 Jul 2013

Police OK with corporate manslaughter

Today, the Police reported:

Police has concluded its investigation into the explosion at the Pike River Mine which occurred on Friday 19 November 2010.

The investigation began on the day following the explosion with the aim of assessing criminal liability that could be attributed to any individual.

After a complex and lengthy inquiry, and consideration of all the information available, police has determined that no charges will be laid against any individual involved in the management of Pike River Coal prior to the explosion.

I find this hard to accept, being that there were multiple safety issues that went unaddressed by Pike River management despite being brought to their attention long before the first explosion occurred. This is something that the Police even acknowledge themselves:

There is general acceptance and ample evidence that there were widespread departures from accepted standards of mine operations. However police has determined that there is insufficient evidence to support the laying of manslaughter charges. The lack of any causative link to the specific events which led to the explosion means a manslaughter prosecution of any individual does not meet the standard of evidential sufficiency.

If a company ignores the rules to make a quick buck and their unacceptable disregard for safety leads to people dying, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. There is no middle ground here, with this being a clear-cut case of criminal-negligence manslaughter.

If there is no appropriate punishment for such a preventable disaster, how exactly do the Police expect there to be an increase in safety across the entire industry? They are effectively disregarding their most important directive, to protect people from harm.

With voluntary measures that are costly to implement and a lack of incentive to make the necessary changes, we're likely to see another Pike River disaster in the not too distant future...especially when the responsible parties effectively get off scot-free. These buggers aren't even going to pay any reparation to the deceased miners families, which is an absolutely despicable result the responsible parties should feel highly ashamed about.