Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an NZME. News Service reporter

New 'most wanted' site a success

Police said this week that after its early success, the website would be rolled out within a month. Photo / File
Police said this week that after its early success, the website would be rolled out within a month. Photo / File

A new police 'most wanted' website aimed at tracking down criminals has been hailed a success by officers despite only two of New Zealand's 12 districts having access to it five months after its launch.

The website was launched in June by police hunting offenders on the run.

But only Wellington and Eastern districts posted pictures of wanted criminals when it went live, with police saying it would be rolled out to the other 10 districts within eight weeks.

Now, 20 weeks on, and still just Wellington and Eastern are using the crime-fighting tool after delays in rolling it out.

Police said this week that after its early success, the website would be rolled out within a month.

In the meantime, there's around 17,000 people at large throughout New Zealand who are wanted on arrest warrants.

Labour's police spokesman Kris Faafoi said it was ridiculous that the most wanted site was not yet rolled out.

"The rollout is three months overdue now and it hasn't lived up to the hype," he said.

"It got launched with much fanfare and the frontline officers were very excited, and so they should have been, but it hasn't been rolled out as far or fast as it could," he said.

"It's another example of where the police budget pressures result in things not being done."

When it was kicked off, national crime manager Detective Superintendent Rod Drew said the site would give police a "much broader audience of people with potential information about those we're looking for".

Local media and Police Ten 7 would still be used to help find offenders, but Mr Drew said criminals can move about quickly, so having a national site gave the police "extra eyes out there".

Police chief media adviser Grant Ogilvie on Wednesday said the site was developed as a pilot, with the intention of extending it to a full national rollout.

Since its inception the wanted persons site had been a "valuable tool in locating or identify persons who are sought", he said.

"It has generated considerable attention from both the public and the media.

"The site has worked well, and based on experience from the pilot, police are now fine-tuning its structure and developing formal guidance to staff for its use, plus providing tools to assist staff before extending to a national rollout."

- APNZ

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