Manukau Counties Police highlight the work they did in Operation Tauwhiro which seized 1,369 firearms, made 1,161 arrests related to firearms offenses and seized more than 52 000 grams of methamphetamine. Video / New Zealand Police
Police have been ordered to apologize for not releasing national firearms seizure statistics which revealed New Zealand is overflowing with guns.
Police step up efforts to crack down on deadly weapons in
the extension of a national program for the prevention of armed violence by gangs and organized crime.
A South Auckland councilor said his community deserved to know the true scale of the alarming gun blast, given the clear public interest and growing concern.
“The truth is the truth and that’s what we want,” former police officer Alf Filipaina told the Herald.
In January, the Weekend Herald reported that frontline officers encountered around 10 guns each day, fueling calls for routine police arming.
Figures obtained under the Official Information Act showed that police had discovered more than 10,000 firearms across the country in the past three years – registered under the GunSafe program to track the proliferation of guns in the street.
Figures confirmed Auckland was a hotbed of gun violence, with Manukau Counties police recording the highest number of weapons nationwide and the city’s three police districts accounting for around half of injuries and fatalities. nation’s gun-related deaths.
The Herald first asked for the figures in March 2020, arguing that publishing them was in the public interest given the worrying escalation in fatal shootings in Auckland.
But it took almost two years before the police finally handed them over – and only after the ombudsman’s office intervened.
The standard time frame for an OIA response is 20 business days.
The Herald complained to the ombudsman about the police’s handling of the OIA’s release.
In a finding just released, Chief Ombudsman Peter Boshier said the delays were “unacceptable” and that procrastination by police bureaucracy had broken the law.
He ordered the police to apologize to the Herald and to review how they would respond to similar official requests for information in the future to avoid further undue delays.
But it is not just the media that seek information on behalf of the public. The police union also searched for GunSafe numbers on behalf of frontline officers – without success.
Police Association boss Chris Cahill said it was important information that was still designed to be publicly available and released in a timely manner.
“This should not have been the subject of a long series of formal inquiries culminating in the Ombudsman stepping in to settle.”
Filipaina said the figures for South Auckland in particular were “awfully alarming”, there was no reason for the police to conceal them from the public.
“I don’t know why they were reluctant to release them because the truth is the truth and that’s what we want. We want the real scale.”
In a letter to the Herald, Inspector Jason Ross, Acting Superintendent of New Zealand Police, apologized for the police handling of the case and the lack of follow-up communication.
The delays were caused by attempts to coordinate the release of various reports “to contextualize information and police response to the changing operating environment”, he wrote.
“Steps are being taken to prevent similar mistakes from happening in the future.”
Meanwhile, a nationwide operation to prevent gun violence by criminal gangs and organized crime groups has been extended until June 30.
Operation Tauwhiro was launched last February by Police Commissioner Andrew Coster. It resulted in the seizure of 1,531 firearms and 1,255 arrests.
Acting Assistant Commissioner of Investigations David Lynch said the figures for seizures and arrests reflected the operation’s success in preventing gun violence and limiting the impact of gangs.
In January, Manukau Counties police executing a search warrant found a semi-automatic rifle, two bolt-action rifles and a pump-action shotgun, along with ammunition and drugs. Similar seizures have taken place in other police districts.
“The police also continued to work with communities on the impacts of gangs in neighborhoods and districts.
“In addition to seizures and arrests, police have been working to keep firearms out of the hands of criminal gangs and organized crime groups. This means working closely with our partner government agencies, the gun retailers, gun clubs and gun license holders to stop the diversion of firearms from legitimate ownership to possession by those involved in criminal activity and violence related to firearms.