NZ Police has acknowledged the Coordinated Review released today into the management of the LynnMall supermarket attacker who was killed by Police after attacking seven innocent shoppers.
Police Commissioner Andrew Coster says the Review traversed the complex, and unique management of the attacker that agencies had been attempting to manage for five years.
“On 3 September 2021, an act of terrorism was committed by a lone individual who had become radicalised to a violent and extreme world view,” the Commissioner said.
“Police continues to recognise the profound impact this attack has had on the lives of the victims and their families and the continued courage they show as they try to move forward with their lives.
“It is also important to mention the numerous Police staff and those from other agencies who worked on the case over five years. Their committed efforts with an uncooperative individual, who was incredibly challenging for our people, must be acknowledged,” he said.
Commissioner Coster said Police worked diligently alongside other agencies and within the powers available to manage the clear risks presented since the individual first came to authorities’ attention.
“As with any matter, particularly over this considerable period, hindsight does provide another perspective on matters and opportunities to improve. However, we note that the report recognises that agencies accurately assessed the risk posed by this individual, and actively worked to mitigate the threat.”
“Throughout, our staff have been acutely aware to the potential risks presented by the individual and worked to pursue avenues to mitigate this risk.
“This was an extraordinarily complex case in which multiple agencies were dealing with an individual in unique circumstances that we had not previously encountered.”
Commissioner Coster said the individual had been engaged by agencies right across the system, with Police working extensively with partner agencies to support each other’s roles.
“Police staff carefully balanced a range of considerations when dealing with this individual over five years,” he says.
“In that time, we took two successful prosecutions, sought multiple custodial remands, and we remained concerned about the recidivist nature of his behaviour, and the very real risk his violent extremism posed to the community. Substantial effort was made within the bounds of legislation to manage the risk clearly presented to the wider community.”
As shown in the report, there were numerous instances of Police, other agencies and members of the wider community who attempted to engage the individual to disengage him from his extremist views.
“Our view was that this individual was already radicalised before he first came to the attention of the authorities and was taking preparatory steps towards undertaking a terrorism offence. Ultimately, despite our attempts, the individual chose not to engage with any party,” Commissioner Coster said.
Police stands by the decisions and judgments made by its staff, with the information and options that were available to them, he said.
“These decisions are never clear cut, but they were made in good faith and with diligent concern for the safety of the public.”
The Commissioner acknowledged the report’s findings about potential improvements.
“The report acknowledged agencies were working within the capabilities provided through legal and systemic structures at the time,” he said.
“Police has continued to develop its approach and capability to manage cases like these.
“Police acknowledges this work remains ongoing within the organisation and across the wider sector.”
He said that in other matters, Police has had success in working with government and community partners to engage with individuals and turn them away from a path of violent extremism.
“Police cannot comment on the specifics of any one case, but generally speaking it has involved wrap around support provided by appropriate agencies, and has included appropriate community engagement,” Commissioner Coster says.
“These individuals may have come to Police attention through viewing extremist content online. While this may or may not lead to charges, it is always a key priority for Police to attempt to disengage the individual from extremist views.”
Police is also leading the development of He Aranga Ake, a multi-agency preventative approach to identifying persons of concern, to reduce the likelihood of violent extremism.
The approach utilises appropriate, coordinated, supported and effective interventions that are proportionate to the person of concerns’ risk, needs, responsivity and circumstances.