Home /  News /  New Zealand Popular

supermarket Chain Asking Govt To Improve Trespass Laws

A major supermarket chain is asking the government to improve trespass laws, saying the current system does not have enough teeth.

Woolworths NZ - which also franchises SuperValue and FreshChoice - wants the government to do more to stop violence against retail workers.

New call-to-action


It has seen a 9 percent increase in acts of violence and aggression in the past year (925, up from 848). Physical assaults have increased by 50 per cent, with 329 instances in the past 12 months.

Head of health, safety and well-being Denva Wren said the company had invested in a range of security measures, but staff were being threatened and hurt in broad daylight, many by repeat offenders. She said current trespass laws were "not fit for purpose".

"The police could issue trespass to an individual or to a group of people and really those people could come straight back in and re-offend straight away. There's just not enough teeth in the trespass law as it currently stands," Wren said.

"If a trespassed individual comes into your site, then you're actually supposed to call police ... then it comes down to whether police have resourcing capacity to actually dispatch someone at that point in time to your location.

"If they dispatch someone, will the [offender] actually be there by the time [police] actually get to that location? So it's very much reliant on police resource to turn out and they are obviously under a lot of pressure and also very busy at the moment."

Woolworths New Zealand's director of stores Jason Stockill told Morning Report that stores have put in measures including shopping cart locks, more guards and even fog cannons.

"You wouldn't think that we'd have to have fog cannons in some of our stores but that's what we've got," he said.

He agreed with Wren that trespass orders needed to be beefed up, such as a trespass order from one Woolworth's that would forbid offenders from entering any of its stores.

"If you're going to go into one Woolwoorths you're going to go into another one."

Stockill said of crime that "you're never going to stop it but we're trying to do more".

A number of factors were driving the increase in store crime.

"There is a bit of desperation [over the economy] but there's also a lot of organised crime.

"You don't go and steal a whole trolley of chocolate bars if it's not organised and it's not for a specific reason."

Woolworths had asked police and justice ministers to consider implementing a system like the Australian workplace protection orders, Wren said.

"A workplace protection order that is effectively issued by a judge has a lot more teeth, so to speak. A judge eyeballing an offender saying 'you will not go back into this location and you will not reoffend' actually is a lot more significant for that offender than a trespass piece of paper to say, effectively, 'please don't come back in'... if it's broken, then it has more significant outcomes."

Neither minister confirmed whether they had spoken with the supermarket chain about trespass laws, or whether they would consider updating them.

Police minister Mark Mitchell said the government was taking a number of steps to address violent retail crime.

"This includes increasing the number of beat police in priority areas, putting in place legislation to ensure tougher consequences for violent offenders, and establishing youth military style academies. While it is for businesses to determine and put into place their own security measures, I am also engaging with the security industry to identify whether there are additional powers central government can look into to support the sector."

Justice minister Paul Goldsmith said the government was keen on tougher consequences.

"We are in the process of enacting firmer responses to deal with retail crime, and are actively considering further options."

Wren said the government did seem to be listening to businesses, particularly through the Retail Crime Forum.

"Both ministers have indicated that they are really up for considering lots of alternatives," she said.

"It's up to government then to make a choice, all we can do is actually talk to the harm that's happening in our organisation and what we're trying to do to try and prevent that harm and what security measures we're putting in place, but also it's obvious that not one organisation can do this alone."

Related Posts