Police frustrated with lack of power amid COVID-19 lockdown

Police are carrying out checkpoints to enforce the lockdown rules but they're disguising some checkpoints as routine traffic stops. 

While the stops may look like lockdown roadblocks, officially, they're not. 

Their routine traffic stops with police checking car registration and driver's licences before casually asking people where they've been and where they're going. 

The transport law gives police the power "to require a driver to stop and give their name and address" - but not much else. 

The office of Police Minister Stuart Nash said police "are operating under a range of existing laws" and "are using discretion".

Police at a checkpoint in Auckland on Thursday night found five drivers who were not locals and told them to go home. An officer told Newshub they're frustrated some New Zealanders aren't taking the lockdown seriously and said "if people just stick to the damn rules, this will all be over in four weeks" time.

Although it may not seem like it to some, the country is in a state of national emergency but one officer told Newshub they've been "directed not to conduct checkpoints specifically for the COVID-19 lockdown, but to focus normally on road policing duties".

They say they are frustrated and need more powers to enforce the lockdown.

"There is a level of frustration understandably against the people to flout those rules, and where the rules are flouted we are able to deal with them," Andrew Coster told Newshub.

It's Coster's first day as Police Commissioner and he's already warning checkpoints could get tougher. 

"There is always potential for the health notice to be revisited if the powers or notices available are insufficient."

Less than 10 arrests have been made so far in the lockdown, but frustration from the force is growing.