Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Man charged after threat at Christchurch WINZ office

A staff member at a WINZ Christchurch branch said all the branches had been locked down. Photo / Kurt Bayer
A staff member at a WINZ Christchurch branch said all the branches had been locked down. Photo / Kurt Bayer

A 50-year-old man has been charged after allegedly making gun threats at a Christchurch Work and Income centre today.

The alleged incident happened just before midday at the Linwood Community Link centre on Aldwins Rd, Linwood.

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Acting District Commander Detective Superintendent Peter Read said the man threatened security staff and had left the scene shortly before police arrived.

"Police spoke to the man on the phone and met with him shortly after 1.30pm," he said.

"Police would like to reassure members of the public that no firearm was sighted by the security staff and one was not located during a search of a residential property."

No one was injured.

The Linwood Work and Income office remained closed while police spoke to staff and located the person who made the threats.

It reopened at about 3pm.

The Ministry of Social Development closed other offices in Canterbury as a precaution and they have also now all reopened.

The man is due to appear at Christchurch District Court next Thursday.

"Everyone has a right to be safe and feel safe and threatening behaviour will not be tolerated," said Mr Read.

"Police would like to thank the members of the public for their patience and Work and Income staff for their help."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Social Development said: "We are rescheduling appointments and can confirm no benefit payments or assistance will be affected as a result."

Marcus Hall, 44, a volunteer worker from Linwood, turned up for his appointment shortly before 1pm and was surprised to find it closed.

"I feel very sorry for the staff for what they have to put up with," he said.

"They're just doing their job. There's no need for it."

Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said threats on Work and Income staff, there to support people, are "distressing and completely unacceptable".

"Following the tragic events in Ashburton, Work and Income has a zero tolerance policy on threats to staff," she said.

"This is absolutely the right approach and staff work closely with police when these events take place, which they do from time to time. If necessary, offices are closed as a precautionary measure."

The minister said that Work and Income is "very mindful of the effects that such events can have on staff" and offer support where necessary.

- NZ Herald

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