Police empathy at heart of the amnesty and buy-back scheme
Police welcomes the Office of the Auditor-General report which says Police managed the amnesty and buy-back scheme effectively, and with empathy and respect for New Zealand’s firearms community.
“I am proud that throughout the entire scheme, our staff showed empathy and respect for our firearms community, as acknowledged in the audit report,” says Assistant Commissioner Tusha Penny.
“Our philosophy from the start was to treat our licence holders like they could be our friends or family members.
In turn our communities showed understanding and commitment to the aim of the scheme – to remove prohibited firearms from our communities so they could not fall into the wrong hands and cause such harm and devastation like the horrific attack of 15 March 2019.
“I want to thank our staff and all our partners who supported Police throughout the amnesty and buy-back journey, from our overseas counterparts, to agencies, and businesses.
But most importantly, I want to thank our firearms communities – who made the scheme successful by doing the right thing and handing in their firearms.
“Police already worked in partnership with our firearms community, but this has taken the partnership to another level, one which I hope will continue to grow even stronger.
“Together we’ve worked through this large scale programme and we’ve removed and destroyed more than 52,500 prohibited firearms safely from our communities.
“We wouldn’t have been able to do that without our firearms community working alongside us as partners.
Together we worked out options for the different groups within our communities, options that worked for them.
”Opportunities were provided across the country, including in remote and isolated areas, for people to hand in their firearms to Police at collection events.
In other cases Police went directly to people who had numerous firearms or where people were unable to attend events.
In each situation safety was the first consideration, and that priority was also recognised by the Auditor-General.
The firearms collected came from individuals who used them for recreational use, from farmers for pest control, dealers, sport shooters, collectors, and from families who held them as heirlooms.
“Our teams did their best to reach far and wide so they were as accessible as possible, to make it as easy as possible, for people to hand in their firearms.
“We knew it was a distressing time for some people.
They were suddenly in possession of a prohibited firearm through no fault of their own, and some firearms held sentimental value as well as monetary.
“We know there is still work to do.
This includes with dealer stock, finalising modifications, processing endorsements, and following up on the remaining E endorsed firearms.
And we are on track with these remaining tasks.”
“The Auditor-General has recognised that implementing the Amnesty and Buy-back scheme was a challenging and high-risk task under tight time constraints.
I am happy the report shows that Police were up to the task and that we did it with compassion,” says Assistant Commissioner Penny.
Police acknowledges the report recommendations and is now considering how to implement them.
You can read the report here.