National's Chris Bishop demands answers from Minister Stuart Nash after firearms stolen from police station

National's Chris Bishop demands answers from Minister Stuart Nash after firearms stolen from police station
Photo credit: Newshub / Getty

The National Party is demanding answers after a man stole 11 firearms from a police station's locked storage area.

On Friday, police announced that Alan James Harris allegedly stole 11 firearms from a locked area of the Palmerston North Police Station on Thursday morning.

Harris was arrested on Saturday, but the location of the firearms is unknown.

"While an arrest has been made, it is very important that anyone with information which will assist us in locating the firearms makes contact with us," acting central district commander Sarah Stewart said.

The theft has raised questions about the police's ability to safeguard weapons as they deal with people surrendering military-style semi-automatic firearms banned in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks.

An amnesty period is currently in force to allow people to hand back the banned guns.

Police Minister Stuart Nash responded to the incident by saying he had "grave concerns" and claimed that the Government had "sought assurances that strong systems and processes were in place to handle surrendered firearms".

"Police told me they were confident they could manage the collection of these firearms. I have now sought fresh assurances from the Commissioner that all stations and firearms handling processes are secure and fit for purpose."

But National Party police spokesperson Chris Bishop said the public should be concerned about the incident and that Nash has serious questions to answer.

"I just think it is very strange that the Police Minister didn't make sure that the police could actually take these weapons before he went around the country and told people to start handing them in," he told Newshub.

"The police ensured the Parliamentary select committee that they could do it, the Police Minister ensured the public that everything would be fine, and now, of course, we find that it is not"

There will be an immediate audit on security around firearms for all police stations across New Zealand.

"One has to wonder why that wasn't ordered before hundreds of people started handing in firearms to police stations. This looks like an accident waiting to happen," he said.

"It is a responsibility of the police and the Police Minister in not making adequate provisions for the laws that came into force."

Bishop said he intended to ask the Police Minister about the ordeal when Parliament resumed.

Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the firearms can contact the Palmerston North police directly on 0800 351 3600. Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.