23 Aug 2019

Offender escapes police custody in Rotorua

8:37 pm on 23 August 2019

Police in Rotorua are searching for a man who escaped custody earlier today.

Levi Parekuka

Levi Parekuka Photo: NZ Police

Just after 4pm today Levi Parekuka made his escape from Rotorua Hospital.

He had been arrested this morning on outstanding warrants.

Police said an active search for him was ongoing and cordons were set up in the area where Parekuka was last seen.

The community has been asked to stay alert and call police on 111 to report any suspicious activity.

A national review into the custody and transport of prisoners has been launched, Police Commissioner Mike Bush announced today.

"Our staff go to work every day to keep the community safe and I want to be sure that the procedures and policies we have in place in regard to the custody and transport of prisoners is fit for purpose and mitigates the risks both to staff and the public," he said.

He said tens of thousands of prisoner movements were managed by police every year and rarely were they met with an incident.

It is the second time this week that offenders have managed to escape police custody.

On Wednesday, three men escaped police custody when they were being taken to a transport vehicle at the Levin District Court.

Police said they were searching Levin and the wider Horowhenua for the three men they named as Wiremu Eparaima, 30, Te Wera Hemara, 27, and Emmanuel Witana, 23.