It's "unacceptable" that no Central Hawke's Bay police were on duty in the area for six hours on Sunday night, the district's mayor says.
During that same period, it was reported that a member of the public had phoned in about an erratic driver and a crash also happened.
Napier MP Stuart Nash hosted a public meeting just hours earlier in Napier, addressing potential changes to police staff numbers in the region.
A police spokeswoman confirmed yesterday there was a crash on State Highway 2 just south of the College Rd intersection in Central Hawke's Bay on Sunday.
Both vehicles were badly damaged but fortunately both drivers received minor injuries only.
The spokeswoman said it appeared the crash was caused by a car crossing the centre line on a corner. It was then in collision with an oncoming ute. The ute ended up on its roof in a roadside ditch and the car came to rest in a nearby paddock.
Senior Sergeant Dan Foley said while there was a gap in resources on Sunday and no police were on duty, there were two officers on call - one in Waipukurau and another being a Hastings officer stationed in Central Hawke's Bay for the night.
Mr Foley said there was a contingency plan that would have kicked in if needed.
The on-call officers attended the scene and Mr Foley said they were there for some time. The woman driving the car was breath tested and would face charges relating to excess breath alcohol and dangerous driving.
Mayor Peter Butler said police confirmed that between the hours of 4pm and 10pm on Sunday there were no local police on duty in the area.
However, when Hawke's Bay Today asked the same question of police yesterday, the spokeswoman said she could not respond to it.
Mr Butler said he had requested a report in writing letting him know exactly what plans were in place for restoring police.
"We, as CHB people, are not happy - 13,000 people and no policemen for six hours."
The mayor said he was told that in three weeks a new system would be rolled out to address police staffing.
"I have been assured that it won't happen again but it wasn't good enough."
He said there were lots of upset people about the lack of police last night. "It's not acceptable."
The stretch between Hastings and Takapu is 69.9km and nearly an hour's drive. Mr Butler said, "Where does the blame stop or start?" in terms of police organisation, adding that local police may have to take orders from head office but he was unsure.