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Issue No. 410 February 2017

Policing a year of sport

New Zealand is set for another huge year of international sport – and Police will be involved at all levels.

The country is hosting or part-hosting: the 9th World Masters Games; the British and Irish Lions tour; and the Rugby League World Cup, with Australia and Papua New Guinea.


Previous tournaments have shown the value of positive interaction between police and spectators.

District operations will be supported by a Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) team led by Superintendent Sandra Manderson, who oversaw policing of the ICC and Fifa U-20 World Cups in 2015.

“Each event has a different dynamic to the others, and the World Cups,” says Sandra. “The main thing is to ensure we’re not complacent, to be well prepared. We’ve got some very experienced commanders around the country, which gives me confidence.”

The World Masters Games (21-30 April) is the world’s largest multi-sport event by competitor numbers. An estimated 45,000 visitors will include around 25,000 athletes.

There are 48 venues in pan-Auckland and Waikato districts: too many for police to attend all, but staff will be ready to respond as needed.

From 3 June to 8 July thousands of Lions fans will travel to ten games in Northland, Auckland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Wellington, Canterbury and Southern districts. The level of interest brings the risk of ticket scalping and fraud.

Superintendents Bruce Bird and John Price, Waikato and Canterbury District Commanders, will be liaison officers to the Lions and All Blacks teams respectively. Sandra met Lions management last month.

The Rugby League World Cup (27 October-2 December) brings seven games to Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch. Cross-border cooperation will be vital as teams and fans switch countries.

Also in the PNHQ team are Acting Senior Sergeant Lucille Hayes and EA/office manager Paula Dymond. They are liaising with a host of police groups: Vetting, comms centres, Public Affairs, NIC, NCCC, MPES, Crime Group, IT, Finance, Alcohol Harm Reduction and tactical groups.

Many visitors will make a holiday of it, potentially keeping Road Policing busy; any VIP – perhaps royal – attendance would involve Protection Services.

External partners include Sport NZ, local organising committees, border agencies, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, and the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Business, Innovation and Employment.

“We had very positive feedback from the World Cups about how police interacted with spectators,” says Sandra. “It’s really important to have a positive relationship with spectators and work closely with other agencies and organisers.

“Our major focus is security but another is to ensure everyone is safe and enjoying being here.”

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