Terror attacks cost police more than $2.5m

Police on Deans Ave after the attack. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Police on Deans Ave after the attack. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The cost of the March 15 terror attacks for police has reached $2.7 million and is still rising.

But Canterbury’s police chief says keeping New Zealand safe and secure has no price tag.

When 51 people were killed and 49 injured after a lone gunman opened fire at two Christchurch mosques, it was the biggest homicide event in NZ history.

For this reason, Canterbury District Commander Superintendent John Price said the cost - which continues to rise - doesn’t surprise him.

“We have never had an event of this size before," he said. 

"You can’t really put a cost on the ability to keep our society safe and free from further violence.

“The cost is ongoing and you can’t put a financial, monetary figure on the importance of a safe and secure country,” he said.

John Price. Photo: Supplied
John Price. Photo: Supplied
At least four police operations have been conducted since the event - Operation Deans, Operation Unity, Operation Overwatch and Operation Whakahaumanu.

The cost of Operation Deans is the most significant and currently sits at $2.65 million.

A breakdown of the costs revealed under the Official Information Act shows $1.73 million was spent on travel expenses, $337,932 for professional services (including forensic services, trauma and psychologist counselling and consultation), $258,062 for vehicle expenses and $323,076 for other operating expenses, such as food and equipment hire.

Deans is the largest operation in NZ history and has been through various phases, including the initial response, reassurance, recovery and ongoing judicial investigation, Superintendent Price said.

"That investigation component is ongoing," he said. 

"We have got a large number of staff currently committing to making sure we put the best possible case before the courts, which also involved staff being dedicated to family liaison work as well.

"That’s going to be ongoing until at the very least, the completion of the course case and possibly a bit more after that,” he said.

Operation Unity, specifically for the National Remembrance Day service in Hagley Park, cost $21,402.

The security operation for the event, which saw more than 100 international dignitaries attend from 59 countries, was of the largest in NZ’s recent history and came at a time where the national threat level was high.

Operation Overwatch was for police’s involvement in Anzac Day services last year and the royal visit from Prince William, which cost $23,710.

“There were a lot of questions around whether Anzac Day celebrations should go ahead," Superintendent Price said. 

"We had no view on that, it’s up to the individual organisations, a lot of that was around making sure they were fully informed about any potential risks."

The costs for Operation Whakahaumanu, which means to ‘revive and restore’, were not separately recorded and were not available. This operation focused on restoring the health of communities across the country.

A police cordon off Deans Ave. Photo: Geoff Sloan
A police cordon off Deans Ave. Photo: Geoff Sloan
All expenses include direct operating costs and don’t include personnel costs, such as staff salaries.

Initially, the funding required for the police operations were relocated within existing resources and no extra funding was given.

A decision was made by the police executive at national headquarters to do this in the short term until the end of the 2018/2019 government’s financial year, June 30.

In the following financial year, which began on July 1, police along with several other government agencies received increased funding as a result of the terror attacks.

Police Minister Stuart Nash announced a $260 million boost for new police initiatives, including $150 million for the gun buyback scheme.

A spokeswoman for Mr Nash said if police require an increase for a specific appropriation, they can make a case to the minister.

Additional funding was also given for mental health support in Christchurch, ACC, support for ethnic communities, security and intelligence agencies and a Royal Commission.

Local trusted journalism matters - now more than ever

As the Covid-19 pandemic brings the world into uncharted waters, Star Media journalists and photographers continue to report local stories that matter everyday - yours.

For more than 152 years our journalists have provided Cantabrians with local news that can be trusted. It’s more important now than ever to keep Cantabrians connected.

As our advertising has fallen during the pandemic, support from you our reader is crucial.

You can help us continue to provide local news you can trust simply by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter