Police has today welcomed the release of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) review into the Police management of the protest and occupation of Parliament grounds in 2022.
The review took a comprehensive look into Police’s management of the occupation, acknowledging the event’s unprecedented and challenging nature.
Police acknowledge the review’s finding that Police served the New Zealand public well overall.
In welcoming this overall finding, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster notes the significant impact the occupation had on residents, businesses, schools and commuters in the surrounding area, and he thanks the many people who supported Police through this time.
Commissioner Coster says he is pleased the IPCA found that Police had been professional and restrained despite facing an exceptionally challenging, provocative, and sometimes, very volatile environment.
The report notes that:
“On the final day, frontline officers faced extreme provocation and violent behaviour from some of the protesters, and a level of public disorder rarely seen in New Zealand. In the face of that, almost all Police officers involved exercised professionalism and restraint in their dealings with the protesters. It is highly commendable that Police were able to end the illegal occupation of Parliament grounds with as few injuries and as little damage to property as they did.”
Commissioner Coster says he is immensely proud of the work of staff throughout the protest and on the final day of the occupation.
“Our people showed great courage and professionalism, given what they faced on that final day.
“This was an unprecedented event and it will be regarded as one of the most significant policing challenges in decades. Despite that, the Authority found we did many things right, particularly the overall use of force being appropriate in the circumstances.
“The report also highlights areas for improvement, including public order policing (POP), planning, command and control, equipment, and health and safety.
“Police’s own internal review highlighted areas for improvement that align with many of the IPCA’s findings.
“We have completed a significant amount of work already, such as ordering more equipment, providing staff with more training, and beginning a full review of public order policing.”
The review into public order policing will investigate issues of training and equipment. More protective equipment has been sourced already to create a centralised store. Districts have also reviewed their own supplies.
“We agree that, ideally, more officers would have had been fully equipped with specialist protective equipment. At the time of the operation we had exhausted all options to do so, including utilising partner agencies.”
Commissioner Coster says staff were deployed in a careful and deliberate manner to maximise their safety, by ensuring those most equipped were at the front in skirmish lines and those with less equipment and training were, as much as possible, deployed to lower risk activities such as transportation and cordons.
“As protestors became increasingly violent toward staff on March 2nd, some staff became exposed to greater risk. Officers took action to mitigate these risks, which included deploying sponge rounds, withdrawing and other tactics.
“Extensive effort went into staff safety, to the extent possible in this context, and I am confident that health and safety was at the forefront of our minds before, during and after the operation.”
Commissioner Coster says the final report makes a number of recommendations which will now be incorporated into the work programme underway.
Police is committed to ensuring proper follow-through and will be tracking implementation of the recommendations over time.
Issued by Police Media Centre