Police could have acted sooner on Parliament protest - Cahill

Vandhna Bhan
Source: 1News

"That's a mistake, and that shouldn't have been allowed" - is what Police Association president Chris Cahill says about the large protester group still camping outside Parliament.

Cahill told 1News police could have moved in quicker when the numbers were small to prevent this situation from getting out of hand.

"It's hard to understand why they were allowed to establish such a big group and those sort of semi-permanent structures," Cahill says.

"When you've got small numbers you need to move and stop them growing and then put in those barriers to stop people getting access. I think that’s the lesson they'll get out of this."

The police union expects this protest to last a couple of months.

Jacinda Ardern says the protest has "tipped well beyond" being about a protest about vaccine mandates to harassment.

"I think if we look around the world these things are incredibly difficult to deal with, the nature of setting up a camp with children and families. Police can't just go there on mass arrest and drag everyone away. It's not the style we like to use in New Zealand."

However, at some stage police will have to step in and move the roughly 450 vehicles that are still blocking the surrounding streets, "and that's the area that I'm worried about, the aggravation and the escalation that will come from that", says Cahill.

He also says negotiating with the protesters in this situation doesn't work because, "you've got so many different opinions and views and they're not really setting in on one issue they want to resolve".

READ MORE: Speaker asks for cross-party support in effort to talk with protesters

Police have had to bring in more staff from across the country to help with the efforts in Wellington. There are about 200 staff that have to be available at any one time in case things escalated. The increase in resources in Wellington mean others in crisis are missing out.

"It's victims of crime that are missing out, it's victims of family violence, it's people in a mental health crisis that police are just struggling to meet and certainly the minor investigations have to fall because police don't have the resources," says Cahill.

While he says things have settled down this week, there's still a long way to go and police are still learning what they could've done better from day one.