Wednesday, 17 April 2019 - 12:31pm |
National News

Threat level change and release of Christchurch attack response timeline

4 min read

Police Commissioner Mike Bush acknowledges today’s change to the New Zealand threat level, and reaffirms Police’s commitment to keeping communities safe. 

“I have previously stated that police would reassess its current position regarding the arming of frontline staff based on our risk environment, with the threat level being one of the factors in our assessment.” says Mr Bush.

We have now begun a phased transition from the protective security measures implemented following the 15 March attack. It will focus on assessments regarding specific locations and events, in line with Police’s well established risk analysis and deployment model.

“Generally this means frontline staff will transition back to our normal approach regarding carriage and access to firearms.  You may still see some frontline staff continue to carry firearms on a case by case basis if particular circumstances necessitate this approach,” says Mr Bush.

“We will still maintain our tactical capability to respond to incidents as required, however the public can now expect to see fewer police officers routinely carrying firearms.

“I stress that if you do see a police officer carrying a firearm it does not mean there is a specific threat to the public,” says Mr Bush.

“I reiterate that there was never any intention for the routine carriage of firearm to continue indefinitely. 

There has been significant consultation on a national and local level with Mosques and Islamic Centres in relation to ongoing security, the details of which I am not going to go into publicly for security reasons.

Our advice continues to be that the public should remain vigilant, and report any suspicious or concerning behaviour to Police by calling 111.

Further timeline details released (full timeline and map available via below link) 

I am also today releasing further details of the immediate police response to the Christchurch terror attacks.

“I have said previously that the public should have as much information as possible about our response, and the timeline we have released today provides further clarity. 

I want to emphasise we are still in an investigation phase and now a prosecutorial stage. The investigation team continues to be focussed on confirming certain details, particularly timings sourced from a number of electronic systems and devices with differing internal clocks.  The information released today is currently the best information I have to date and what I can release without compromising the criminal investigation or the trial.

The timeline provided begins at 13.40 on March 15.

An email which has the manifesto as an attachment is received by a range of people including Parliamentary Services.  At 13.40.44 Parliamentary Services calls South Comms.  I would like to thank Parliamentary Services security staff for their swift action in contacting police.

The call from Parliamentary Services lasts for 12 minutes.

We now know that while Police was talking to Parliamentary Services the attack at Al Noor Mosque was already underway, having begun 44 seconds prior to Parliamentary Services calling.

One minute later at 13.41 Police receive the first 111 call. 

By 13.43 all available units are en-route to Al Noor Mosque.

Armed Offenders Squad members are the first to arrive near the scene at 13.46.58.  They exit their vehicle, start approaching the mosque and one member stops to assist a critically wounded victim.

At this point the alleged offender is leaving the area, and his vehicle is obscured from the view of these AOS members by a bus. At this time there is no vehicle description, no information an offender has left the mosque, or how many shooters there are. 

First responders arrive at the Al Noor Mosque at approximately 13.51.

It takes the alleged offender 6 minutes to get to Linwood Mosque and he is there for three minutes, leaving at 13.55.

At 13.56.09 Police receives information that shots have been fired at the Christchurch Emergency Department. It later transpired that no shots had been fired at the hospital. Sixteen seconds later at 13.56.25 a member of the public flags down a police car to advise shots have been fired in Linwood.

At 13.57 the vehicle is seen by a police unit on Brougham Street and a pursuit is initiated. The vehicle is stopped at 13.59 and the offender is apprehended. At 13.59 police also arrive at the Linwood Mosque.

There are 18 minutes from the time of the first call to 111 to the apprehension of the offender.

I reaffirm my previous comments that Police staff acted as quickly as humanly possible given the rapidly unfolding nature of the event, and the information available to us in that very brief period of time.  

As part of normal operational practice we are debriefing our response. In order to provide absolute transparency this will be done by an independent team, including a Queen’s Counsel.

The debrief is an important process to ensure any lessons are learnt, and used to inform future operational responses.

I remain incredibly proud of the staff who responded on March 15 and I continue to receive praise and admiration from people both here and overseas for the actions of staff both on the day and in the weeks following.

International presence

I am also very grateful for the assistance provided on the day by several of our international colleagues who were here for a specialist training course.

Police Officers from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Hong Kong, as well as New Zealand Defence Force personnel, responded with our staff and rendered initial first aid to victims at the Linwood mosque.  Their specialist skills have been credited with saving lives and we were fortunate to have them on the ground with us.


Note a more detailed timeline and map are available via this link:

Issued by Police Media Centre