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The earthquake - and the role of Police

The earthquake - and the role of Police

The current focus of Police is to support the search and rescue operation in Christchurch that is being led by Urban Search and Rescue (USAR). Our primary functions are to maintain law and order and support the coronial process relating to Disaster Victim Identification.

There is a police presence at each of the cordons which control access to the central business district. And we have high-visibility reassurance policing throughout the city. For these roles, we have added to officer numbers in Christchurch by 300, and have the benefit of 323 police officers from the Australian states and federal police. A significant function is looking after the needs of these extra officers while they are deployed, including accommodation, transport, food, equipment and other issues.

The purpose of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process is to match (including a full forensic examination) the identification of those we have recovered as deceased, with the forensic identify of those listed as missing. We are working in close collaboration with USAR so that when human remains are found, these are taken into care, logged and secured in the temporary mortuary.

Police have in excess of 80 staff working solely on producing a forensic examination of those listed as missing. This is a highly complex process and there is no room for error. More than 150 staff in total are working on the DVI process.

Another priority for Police is supporting our Christchurch staff, many of whom have been working long hours and in very difficult circumstances since the earthquake, and who of course have been living in post-disaster conditions since the large earthquake on 4 September last year.

Police has a huge welfare operation engaged in supporting our staff and this will be a requirement for a long time to come.

We have been uplifted by the reaction from members of the public, the media and our colleagues across the emergency management spectrum. There is a long way to go, but Police are fully engaged.

Policing for the rest of New Zealand is not going unattended. Police are available in all communities to deal with the routines of policing. Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has all non-earthquake matters under his consideration whilst Deputy Commissioner Pope sits across all Christchurch and earthquake issues.


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