The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found multiple failings in respect of the disappearance of nine firearms which were held by Police in Auckland from 28 January 2017.
A man surrendered the firearms and his firearms licence to Police after he was served with a temporary Protection Order. When a Family Court Judge discharged the order in April 2017, the man sought the return of his firearms. However, Police could not locate them.
The officer who took possession of the firearms had placed them in an interim storage place at the North Shore Policing Centre. He did not complete the Exhibits register, because he thought it did not apply to surrendered firearms. In all other respects, the officer sufficiently complied with Police policy and standard operating procedures for the surrender and temporary storage of Mr X's firearms.
However, there were multiple failings by two arms officers in relation to the storage of Mr X's firearms. CCTV cameras did not capture the entrance to the armoury, and records were not completed as required by policy.
Monthly and six-monthly audits of exhibit management were either not conducted or not conducted to an adequate standard by Police during the time Mr X's firearms were likely to have been held at the centre.
Judge Colin Doherty, Authority Chair, said:
"It is not possible to determine what happened to Mr X's firearms. Appropriate procedures were not in place to ensure surrendered firearms were properly received, registered, stored, and tracked. If the firearms were destroyed, arms officers failed to comply with procedures for destruction."
Police have agreed to compensate Mr X for the missing firearms. A new process for handling seized and surrendered firearms has been implemented following a Waitemāta District audit conducted in mid-2018 and a CCTV camera has been moved to ensure the entrance to the armoury is captured.
Police are in the process of developing an electronic exhibit management system. The Authority has recommended that this system should also apply to seized and surrendered firearms.