New Zealand crime cleanup company investigated after posting graphic photos online | New Zealand

New Zealand’s justice ministry has launched an investigation into whether a crime scene cleaning company broke the law by posting images to its social media pages of cleanup sites – including, allegedly, images of suspected suicide sites and of human remains. The story was first reported by RNZ, which found […]

New Zealand’s justice ministry has launched an investigation into whether a crime scene cleaning company broke the law by posting images to its social media pages of cleanup sites – including, allegedly, images of suspected suicide sites and of human remains.

The story was first reported by RNZ, which found Christchurch company Crime Scene Cleaners had posted images to its Facebook and Instagram accounts – including graphic images of decomposing human remains, and images of cleanup work in the aftermath of suspected suicides.

New Zealand laws restrict the publication of details relating to suspected or confirmed suicides that suggest the method of death. A death may not be referred to as a suicide until the coroner has made that determination after a coronial investigation.

Crime Scene Cleaners general manager, Carl Loader, told the Guardian he and the company were “deeply upset that our social media pages have caused the reaction that they have today. We sincerely apologise to anyone that has been offended by them.

“We had thought that by sharing some of the images from our work, we would raise awareness of some important social issues, and what our company do[es],” he said. “As the manager, I should have kept a close eye on the content that was being shared.”

Loader said the company had taken down all social media pages, and would be “reviewing our future on social media”.

Speaking to RNZ, some customers who had employed the service after the death of a family member said that homes were clearly identifiable in some of the images posted, with a variety of identifying objects.

RNZ reported that in one photo posted to social media, a smiling staff member held a piece of human bone, after working to clean a train that had hit and killed the person. Other photos of human remains were published with casual or degrading captions, RNZ reported. Some of the images or captions allegedly indicated how the person had died.

The photos in question have now been removed. The company’s website says it specialises in crime scene and trauma cleanup. “We understand your requirements for the highest level of discretion and have highly trained professional technicians in biological forensic decontamination & remediation ready to tackle your issue,” it says.

“The aftermath of a self-inflicted death or homicide can be disturbing and leave scenes that can cause additional emotional trauma. Cleaning these scenes is best left to trained professionals who are not personally involved with the family.”

A coronial spokesperson at New Zealand’s ministry of justice said “The behaviour in question that may have breached the Coroners Act includes Crime Scene Cleaners publishing photos and comments on social media that mention the method of suicide.

“The office of the chief coroner is considering whether any breaches … have occurred,” they said. “The Coroners Act also enables a coroner to prohibit the making public of any evidence given at any part of a coronial inquiry, in the interests of justice, decency, public order, or personal privacy.”

  • In New Zealand the Suicide Crisis Helpline is 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO).
    You can also call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP), or the Samaritans on 0800 726 666. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected] In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 800-273-8255 or chat for support. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a crisis text line counselor. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/feb/08/new-zealand-cleanup-company-investigated-after-posting-graphic-photos-online

Jolyon Davie

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