Your rights with Police

The role of Police in New Zealand

  • New Zealand Police is responsible for making sure New Zealand is a safe place to live and that everyone obeys the laws of this country.
  • Police staff are trained to help and protect everyone in New Zealand.
  • The main roles of police include preventing, investigating, solving and reducing crime and road crashes.
  • Police will not tolerate any crime against a person based on race. See our safety information about hate crime.
  • You are welcome and encouraged to approach police and talk with them or ask for help.
  • New Zealand Police officers do not normally carry guns. There are some exceptions such as police at international airports or special police groups known as the Armed Offenders Squad.
  • Most New Zealand Police wear a police uniform. However, some police officers including detectives do not wear a uniform (they wear plain clothes). If you are approached or questioned by a police officer in plain clothes, they should be able to tell you what police station they come from and show you their police identification card.
  • Police works with many community groups, ethnic groups and government agencies to help make New Zealand a safe place to live, work and study.

See also:

Police service commitment

New Zealand Police will:

  • acknowledge your call
  • treat your case seriously
  • provide a responsive service
  • tell you about other agencies that may be able to assist you
  • tell you about what is being done, or will be done, so that our actions are properly understood.

What Police expect from you

  • Let us know about your problem as soon as possible.
  • Provide as much information as you can.
  • Let us know if anything more happens.
  • Help us understand what you want.
  • Say if you need support.

Your rights with Police

If you are questioned, detained or arrested by Police, your legal rights are:

  • you can talk to a lawyer privately, without having to wait to see them
  • you can choose not to make a statement
  • you can ask why you are being questioned, detained, or arrested.

Police has a list of the names and phone numbers of lawyers qualified to give advice and who have agreed to be contacted any time, day or night. Ask the Police for the list of Police Detention Legal Assistance Lawyers.

Complaints against Police

If you believe Police has done something wrong, or that you were not treated fairly by police you can make a formal complaint, in any one of the following ways: