Budget 2019 provides an additional $10.7 million over four years to improve the Department of Conservation’s security, and health and safety systems.

The new money includes:

  • $4.1 million to fund a permanent security team
  • $5 million to improve health and safety systems and staffing levels
  • $1.6 million to improve physical security at DOC sites (note: this is depreciation allocated to support $7.3 million of CAPEX work which is already held by DOC).

Anti-social behaviour and threats against DOC staff have grown as a small group opposed to predator control using 1080 move beyond social media trolling to target vehicles, property and people. This includes staff and contractors being followed, filmed, abused and threatened. Vehicles have been tampered with, property and equipment vandalised, and staff assaulted.

DOC and NZ Police continue to work closely to keep people safe and allow staff to do their jobs without interference.

This year three staff have been assaulted. Fortunately, they did not suffer serious injury however the three incidents had potential for great harm.

So far this year 23 cases involving a range of dangerous and illegal behaviour have been referred to the Police.

Three people have been convicted in relation to:

  • a DOC staff member struck with a quad bike
  • threat to release 1080 into public places
  • threatening letters containing substances (firearms licence also revoked).

Police have laid charges in seven cases which include:

  • death threats – 2 incidents
  • wilful damage
  • unlawful hunting – 2 incidents
  • theft

Other cases that are under current investigation or where warnings have been issued include:

  • threatening to shoot down helicopters
  • DOC ranger abused and threatened
  • assault on DOC employee – 2 incidents
  • DOC buildings broken into
  • DOC ranger threatened with axe
  • DOC employee followed
  • vandalism
  • threats
  • trespassing.

Social media continues to be a considerable driver of harm and incitement.

The new budget funding will be used to strengthen DOC’s security and health and safety capability to allow staff, contractors, DOC partners and volunteers to get on with vital conservation work.

New health, safety and security staff will be recruited over coming months and will be located mainly in the regions.                                                                                                                 

Breakdown of incidents by month - January to April 2019
  January February March April Total
Vandalism   1 4 2 7
Threatening /driving 1 1 2 1 5
Threat 4 1 8 14 27
Theft     1   1
Graffiti 6 1 1 1 9
Blockade   1 1 1 3
Assault   2 1   3
Abuse and harrassment 13 18 23 25 79

The table above shows a breakdown of incidents since January 2019. The classification methodology has been updated this year, so differs from the 2018 statistics. Information has not previously been collated in this manner, so a breakdown over the last two years is not possible.

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