More than half of the Bay of Plenty population has an alert against their name on the New Zealand Police intelligence system, figures reveal.
And nationwide, more than 2 million people had at least one alert in 2020.
The alerts ranged from family violence to trespassing, firearm-related to warrants for arrest and people may have more than one against their name.
The Bay of Plenty district had the fifth-highest number of alerts with 160,986 – 52 per cent of the 2018 Census Bay of Plenty population of 308,499.
The figures were held in the Police National Intelligence Application (NIA) and showed Counties/Manukau had the most alerts and Northland the least.
The Bay of Plenty Times received details of the NIA alert system through the Official Information Act and were active as of March 25, 2021.
There were 442,778 people with alerts against their name who police were unsure of their primary address district.
Police say the numbers aren't black and white and a security analyst said no major privacy issues appeared to be broken either.
Director of community partnerships and prevention Superintendent Eric Tibbott said they weren't being Big Brother.
"The alert system is reactive, based upon an interaction between police and a member of the public and subsequent checks carried out using NIA."
An example of how the NIA system could be used in day-to-day policing would be if a person was known to carry a firearm or had previous firearm offences, this alert would be added to their record. Should front-line police staff need to interact with them, they would be aware of firearms information and take precautions they might otherwise not take when engaging with someone who doesn't have the same alerts.
"It is one tool to keep front-line staff safe and help them prepare for the range of interactions they have with the general public on a day-to-day basis," Tibbott said.
Security expert Dr Paul Buchanan said there appeared to be no major privacy issues connected to the NIA alert system.
"Needless to say the amount of cancelled licence drivers and family violence involvement is sobering and sad," the 36th Parallel Assessments director said.
However, he said the vetting monitor category was "a bit problematic" given people could be vetted in instances when they did nothing wrong.
People who applied for early childhood teacher jobs or any others that needed some type of security clearance would appear, Buchanan said.
In the calendar year ending December 31, 2020, there were 2,181,091 people who had one or more alerts against their name nationwide.
However, Tibbott said there was an issue with duplicates and there could be more than one record for a person. Alerts can also be made for people visiting New Zealand.
Alerts were able to be entered manually, recorded as part of the police process or be drawn from partner agency systems such as a warrant to arrest from the courts.
Not all NIA alerts were actively monitored and the system was categorised into five broad alert categories:
• Staff safety alerts: Information to help staff keep safe;
• Action required: Actions staff are asked to perform;
• Flags: Family violence involvement among others;
• Orders and restrictions: Court imposed restrictions on individuals;
• Intervention plans: Plans to keep a person, place or community safe.
Vetting monitor was by far the most common alert nationwide, followed by photo driver licence card cancelled and family violence involvement.
There was a jump of 255,423 total alerts from 1,925,668 at the end of the 2019 calendar year to the 2020 total.
Tibbott said the apparent growth was explained by recent changes to police operation systems and settings.
"The apparent growth in the number of people with an active alert is explained by changes to police operational systems and settings," he said.
"For example, the most frequently recorded alert currently of vetting monitor is a new recording practice that came into effect in September 2015."
The alert was first used to notify police if a vetted individual was warned, charged or convicted of an offence in the Children's Act 2014.
It was expanded in February 2017 to allow police to offer information to Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency of people with P, V, I or O drivers' licences.