Lockdown: Police alert level 4 powers mean officers can set up roadblocks

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Apr 2020, 7:02PM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Lockdown: Police alert level 4 powers mean officers can set up roadblocks

Author
Jason Walls, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 7 Apr 2020, 7:02PM

New details of bolstered police powers during the Covid-19 alert level 4 lockdown reveals authorities have the power to set up roadblocks and random checkpoints.

They also have the power to "enter, remain and inspect" any household or office that is suspected of housing an unsanctioned gathering.

The new guidance, recently released by the police, revealed that under alert level 4 police may do "anything reasonably necessary, including the use of force, to compel, enforce, or ensure compliance" of the lockdown measures.

"There is a power to stop and inspect any vehicle, and enquire into the purpose of travel," the advice states.

It also says that police have the power to enter and inspect a premises if they have "reasonable grounds" to suspect there is a large gathering of people from different bubbles.

The advice states that police are not allowed to set up a police roadblock for usual police purposes.

"However, police may place roadblocks as a direct request from their Territorial Authority."

Random checkpoints to assess whether people are complying with the essential travel requirements may be part of the police's response as well, the documents show.

But the advice is clear for cops: "We police by consent and must maintain the support of the wider public in our actions."

"This means our actions need to be seen as reasonable, proportionate, and aligned to the intent of the level 4 restrictions."

The guidelines also set out a range of scenarios for police officers, advising them as to what powers they have in certain situations.

Earlier today, Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield revealed nearly 300 people have been caught breaking the rules since the lockdown began - most of whom have been sent home with a warning.

However, police told the Herald they have taken action against 16 people who are now facing prosecution for not adhering to the lockdown rules.

On Saturday, Bloomfield said: "Police have all the powers they need to make sure people not following the rules are dealt with."

The police issued a statement over the weekend about the Government's updated Public Health Notice which, among other things, made it clear that water-based activities, such as surfing, were not allowed.

In that statement, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster said the vast majority of New Zealanders have a high level of awareness of what they can and can't do under the alert level 4 restrictions.