Police say they can manage gun buyback scheme despite an embarrassing mistake

Police are reassuring the public that they can safely manage the gun buyback scheme despite admitting an embarrassing bungle during a review. 

The audit was ordered after someone stole 11 firearms from the Palmerston North Station on Anzac Day - or so the police thought. 

While eight of those guns were recovered, police have been searching for the remaining three.

They admitted on Tuesday that two were never missing.

"There was a hardcopy of some paperwork that was misplaced, and so we believed three were outstanding, but actually there was only the one," Police Deputy Commissioner of District Operations, John Tims, told Newshub.

That was discovered during a nationwide audit of firearm storage, ordered in the wake of the Palmerston North breach.

The two firearms had actually been returned to their owner a week prior to the theft.

"There's some lessons that we have learnt, we've got to look forward now. We accept there is room for improvement," says Tims.

The audit also found a quarter of police stations aren't up to scratch when it comes to firearm security.

Tims says systems and processes are changing.

"Upgrading our CCTV, upgrading our alarm systems, but also looking at internal storage where we store the firearms," he says.

To add insult to injury, the Independent Police watchdog on Tuesday slammed Auckland Police for losing track of a man's guns in 2017. 

"It's not the best picture is it... I mean, the specifics might be different, but it appears in both cases processes and procedures were not adhered to," National Party's Police Spokesperson, Brett Hudson, told Newshub.

The questions around gun security are untimely, as police ask gun owners to hand over their semi-automatics.

But police are confident they can manage the gun buyback scheme - and say work is already underway to improve the stations where security was lacking.