Piecemeal Police gun crime data a ‘dangerous embarrassment’

Media release

The Council of Licensed Firearm Owners (COLFO) says piecemeal publication of firearm crime data masks incompetent data collection by Police, increases public firearm fear, and hides the failure of the firearm confiscation programme.

A story this week by the NZ Herald tries to make the best of data obtained from a Police database started in 2019, pretentiously called the ‘Gun Safe’ project. The data was promised to be public and easily accessible to help guide policy.

COLFO Spokesperson Hugh Devereux-Mack said the data has not been regularly released in full, forcing media and stakeholders like COLFO to request data under the Official Information Act.

“The failure to consistently record and report firearm data is a dangerous embarrassment.”

The GunSafe data includes all manner of events, even callouts where firearms are never found. Even the Police Association noted in 2020 that recording of events is erratic.

Data reliability is undermined by broad criteria that leads to ‘events’ being entered into the GunSafe system. Entries include times a firearm is suspected but not present, times where there is a ‘perceived firearms risk’ but no actual firearm involved, times a subject is known to have a firearm – but Police do not encounter one, and for events when there is something that looks like a real firearm, but isn’t. This means even courtesy visits to a licensed firearm owner’s home can be classified as an ‘event’ within the system, inflating the numbers unnecessarily. These Gun Safe numbers have been used to argue for general armament of police which COLFO and other organisations spoke out against.

Event details are either combined in rough categories or inputted into free text fields which Police noted in an OIA response to COLFO last year, made it too time consuming to formulate into more useful data.

“This poor reporting has created an unnecessary fear of licensed firearm owners, and misdirected efforts to deal with criminal use of firearms.

“It has prevented the public from seeing that despite Government promises that the grandiose firearm confiscation would make New Zealanders safer, firearm crime has continued unchanged.

“It has prevented the public from seeing the inability of Police to collect this data.

“Because of the inconsistent Gun Safe reporting framework, the data has possibly hidden a failure to catch and prosecute enough criminals who have firearms, and lays a poor foundation for costly new legislation” Devereux-Mack says.

COLFO supports frontline officers and their work on operation Tauwhiro which is necessary to tackle criminal use of firearms. Devereux-Mack says this is where Police should be investing their efforts and not the administration of the firearms licensing system where Police have shown that they are an inefficient disaster.

For further information contact: Hugh Devereux-Mack. 027 362 0853







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7 Responses to Piecemeal Police gun crime data a ‘dangerous embarrassment’

  1. Joe Tutaenui says:

    Both the Keystone cops and media are guilty by act of ‘misinformation.” This should be reported to the Prime Minister’s Ministry of Misinformation. It is not really amusing as it gives the public a totally wrong image of the law abiding licensed firearm-owning public.

  2. Phil Cregeen says:

    I whole heartedly agree with COLFOs statement. This GunSafe program is a disaster leading to incorrect information being supplied to Parliament and the general public.

    This in turn leads to poor policy around firearm legislation and administration.

    Further the figures quoted in the Herald article are further proof that the firearm law changes enacted since 2019 have not made New Zealand safer.

  3. Chaz Forsyth says:

    Fragmentary data aided and abetted by the fourth estate clouds rather than clarifies many of these issues.

  4. Don Stanley says:

    Police don’t want ANYONE (other than responsible police officers) to own or have access to any firearms ever, no matter the circumstances, then this fiasco (along with a non performing register) is entirely consistent. It is not about truth, reality or fairness, it’s where the ends justify the means. We have more police than ever before, yet we see less of them, stations are closed, emails go unanswered, and firearm licenses are a drama to obtain, wether a new one or a renewal. Again, consistent with their aims of no one having firearms.

  5. Charlie Baycroft says:

    Yup. Massaging the data to justify discrimination against law abiding people that own firearms.
    How do people that are so dishonest expect to be trusted and cooperated with?
    They do not because they think they can use their power to bully and force people to obey them.
    Maybe not this time?

  6. Justice Will B. Dunn. says:

    Sounds like a lot of vapid posturing, a make work scheme to make it look like someone cares and is doing something about “gun violence” (shd read “gang violence”). As the poet said “Something must be done; this is something, therefore it must be done”.

  7. Paul Carter says:

    Our Government and Police have learnt a lot from Trump on how to provide disinformation to the public. The manipulation on how firearm incidents are reported by an inept media further demonises licensed firearm owners. The Firearm Register will be either be ‘hacked’ or its information disseminated by corrupt Police Officers. A news story from 18th July 2021 stated Police’s Anti-Corruption Unit has looked into more than 230 incidents involving Police Officers between January 31st 2020 and 14th June 2021.
    Let’s not forget other Government Agencies may have access to the data base as well.

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