'Culture change that needs to happen': Claims bullying rife within NZ police force

A former senior police officer says bullying is a major problem that reaches senior levels in the force.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush on Tuesday announced an independent review looking at bullying in the police.

John Woodward, once a member of the Armed Offenders Squad on the West Coast, was a recipient of a bravery award.

He says he was also on the receiving end of sustained, brutal bullying during his final years on the force. 

"They just attack you," Woodward told Newshub.

He said it all started during a contentious restructure of shifts. He told managers in confidence he'd seen poor behaviour from unhappy officers as a result. A document detailing this was leaked. 

"To walk in there and see that bit of paper and only that bit of paper on the meal room table, that was the time I knew my life was about to become very, very difficult," Woodward said.

The bullying got so bad, Woodward was told of plans to "accidentally" shoot him at a firearms training course he was running.

Woodward is just one of up to 100 current or former employees who have complained to media about bullying.

Bush has announced an independent review into systems around bullying, run by consultant Debbie Francis

Woodward says the bullying culture is rife and goes right into senior levels

"It's a culture change that needs to happen," he told Newshub. "It's the boys club stuff that needs to change." 

The Police Minister highlighted some claims dated back five years.

"The culture in police, I believe has changed substantially since 2014, but I suppose Debbie Francis will get to the bottom of this," Stuart Nash said.

Bush won't comment on the review while it's underway.