Parliament Protest Feb/Mar 2022 Official Information Act public releases

Parliament Protest Feb/Mar 2022 Official Information Act public releases

Date Published: 
June 2022

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has commenced an independent investigation and review (Review) of the policing of the occupation on and around Parliament grounds in Wellington during February and March 2022 (Protest).

The scope of the Review includes Police management of intelligence, Police engagement with protestors and at local and national government levels, Police planning and preparation, Police command and control, operational execution, and the powers used. Full details of the scope of the review are available on the IPCA’s website.  

Whilst this Review is underway, information relating to the issues under investigation and review is expected to be the subject of examination by the IPCA under its powers of investigation under the IPCA Act 1988. With this Review commenced, there is a strong public interest in allowing these matters to be considered by the IPCA. 

On receiving requests for information, Police considers the public interest in releasing that information immediately against the public interest in allowing the IPCA Review to be completed without earlier predetermination of the matters it is considering.  

Where information requested tends to go to the heart of the matters that are under investigation and review by the IPCA we have determined that it is appropriate to withhold this information pursuant to s 9(2)(ba)(ii) of the OIA, until such time as the IPCA has reported.  

Where information requested is sufficiently removed from the issues directly under investigation and review by the IPCA, we are releasing it unless there is a reason not to (for example, the information does not exist, or the matter is under active investigation).  

The IPCA anticipate the investigation and review will be completed and reported on by 31 March 2023.

Police recognise the importance of transparency in these matters and look forward to the release of the IPCA’s report, at which time more detailed information regarding the Police response to the Protest will be publicly available.

The following documents have been collated by Police in response to Official Information Act requests. Further documents will be added over the next few months.

Key sections of the Official Information Act under which information has been withheld

Certain information has been withheld or refused under one or more of the following sections of the OIA:

  • Information is withheld under section 6(c) as making such information available would likely prejudice the maintenance of the law, including the prevention, investigation, and detection of offences, and the right to a fair trial. 
  • Information is withheld under section 9(2)(a) to protect the privacy of natural persons, including that of deceased natural persons.
  • Information is withheld under section 9 (2)(ba)(ii) to protect information which is subject to an obligation of confidence or which any person has been or could be compelled to provide under the authority of any enactment, where the making available of the information would be likely otherwise to damage the public interest.
  • Information is refused under section 18(e) the document requested does not exist or, despite reasonable efforts to locate it, cannot be found.
  • Information is refused under section 18(f) that the information requested cannot be made available without substantial collation or research.
  • Information is refused under section 18(g) that the information requested is not held by New Zealand Police and we have no grounds for believing that the information is either—
    1. held by another department; or
    2. connected more closely with the functions of another department.


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Overview

In the below PDF is a list of OIAs that have been released to the public regarding the February / March protest on Parliament grounds and the surrounding areas as at 30 May 2022.

The full OIAs and responses are available further below under the four categories of Costs, Policing response, Staff and resources, and Tactical options.

Costs

As at 31 March 2022, Police had incurred expenses totalling $2.557m in relation to the protest at Parliament.

The expenditure covers expenses incurred directly in response to the protest such as accommodation, food supplies, towing, airfares and vehicles, venues and helicopter hire costs. It does not include any personnel costs of the staff assigned to this operation.

Policing response

The Policing Act 2008 sets out the functions and powers of New Zealand Police and provides for the governance and administration of Police.  The Crimes Act 1961 contains provisions permitting the use of reasonable force where necessary for law enforcement purposes. 

Both Acts are publicly available at legislation.govt.nz.

Staff and resources

Between 9 February and 13 March 2022, 392 Wellington District staff and 1802 Police staff from outside of Wellington District were intermittently deployed to police the protest. The 1802 total includes staff from Police National Headquarters and the Royal New Zealand Police College.

On 2 March 2022 Police deployed approximately 620 officers for the operation to restore order and access to the area around Parliament. These officers were deployed in front-line and support roles.

All police officers who worked at the protest were members of New Zealand Police and were trained in New Zealand.

The operation to restore order to Parliament’s ground and surrounding areas involved New Zealand Police staff only. No foreign police officers were deployed in the operation.

While the uniform for frontline staff includes detachable epaulettes, displaying position level and for senior sergeants and below their registered numbers, Police’s public order protective equipment includes shoulder protectors that may cover the epaulettes when worn.

Given the large size of the constabulary workforce, staff resignations and retirements occur as a matter of course. None of the 43 constabulary staff who resigned from New Zealand Police between 8 February and 2 March 2022 had worked at the protest in Wellington.

Tactical options

Police equipment is designed to protect our people from violent behaviour, and to incapacitate people behaving violently, and is used in general policing.

Police crowd control devices used at Parliament included loud hailers for communication and an LRAD device (Long-Range Acoustic Device).

Police monitors the technology of body-worn cameras, and any potential benefits for the New Zealand policing environment. However, at this time Police has not been approved to wear body worn cameras and there are no plans for their immediate introduction.

During the operation to restore order to Parliament’s ground and surrounding areas, prior to deploying any tactical option Police staff used the threat assessment methodology TENR (Threat, Exposure, Necessity, Response).

TENR is a decision-making process to support a timely and accurate assessment to the safety of police and others. The Police response to any given situation must be considered timely, proportionate, and appropriate.