3 Mar 2022

Parliament protest aftermath: Police enter 'significant investigation phase'

5:41 pm on 3 March 2022

Police have begun a "significant investigation" into yesterday's events at the Parliament protest and say they will hold people accountable for any criminal behaviour.

Police Assistant Commissioner Richard Chambers has held a media conference to provide the latest information on the aftermath of the protest.

Watch it here:

There were violent scenes yesterday when police cleared anti-mandate protesters away from the front of Parliament.

Chambers said police made 89 arrests yesterday and there have been 11 further arrests today.

He said police had now entered a "significant investigation phase".

"We are working hard to bring together a lot of footage, support from the public and other sources of information to help us hold people accountable for their criminal behaviour yesterday."

Chambers said the investigation will continue "as long as it needs to". He could not say how many people police were looking for.

"If any evidence demonstrates that someone's behaviour was criminal then we will take the appropriate action.

"One of the things that we look at is funding streams. Work on that is underway."

A 'proportionate' response

More than 40 police staff were injured yesterday. Injuries range from abrasions to bone fractures and head injuries. Eight staff who were admitted to hospital have since been discharged.

Chambers said police were thankful for support from Wellington Free Ambulance yesterday.

"Having them available alongside us ... was something we are very grateful for."

Chambers said he did not have a total number of injuries for protesters, but medical support was available for them.

"I can't comment on any admissions to hospital."

He said the force that police used was "necessary and proportionate to the situation that was in front of them".

He said police would look at anything that suggested police force was not appropriate.

The use of fire extinguishers and bricks being thrown at police by protesters changed the police response, Chambers said.

"We did use pepper spray yesterday and that was entirely appropriate."

A 'very close eye' on remaining protesters

Police have had officers stationed around the perimeters of the CBD area today, but have not reported any issues. Protesters have been gathering in other areas around Wellington, including on the Miramar Peninsula.

Police were keeping a "very close eye" on them, Chambers said.

"We are monitoring all behaviour and their activity to prevent and further situations."

Chambers said any protesters remaining in the Wellington Region should go home. He said genuine protesters were long gone by yesterday.

Police would also monitor any activity in other parts of the country, Chambers said. He added that police would be patrolling anywhere in the country where there are protests for as long as it takes.

As national controller of the investigation into the protest, Chambers would be kept informed of any related activity elsewhere in the country.

"What we have seen today is a number of those protests, protesters, depart and go home as well."

Before police involved in yesterday's operation return to their part of the country they are required to have a RAT test, Chambers said.

Chambers said today's efforts in Wellington had focused on reassurance patrols and visibility.

"I'd like to say a very big thank you to the people of Wellington. The support they have shown today to police staff that were involved yesterday and today has been phenomenal."

He said police had received "thousands" of messages of thanks for their efforts.

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