Earlier today Ashburton District Council's public reception area was temporarily closed for a low-level lock down under the advisement of the Police. During a routine field inspection, a Council officer's personal safety was threatened by a member of the public. Police acted swiftly to address the situation, including advising Council to ensure staff safety with a low-level lock down until the issue was resolved. This included temporarily closing Council's reception area to the public, removing any field-based employees who were working specific areas, and shutting all windows and blinds on the ground floor.
All employees and customers were kept up to date and informed of the situation as evidence came to light over the short timeframe this lock-down was in place.
Mayor Angus McKay commended staff for their professionalism and level-headed manner in continuing to provide good customer service.
"As an employer in the public sector, we are aware that incidents happen from time to time that require swift action to ensure staff safety" he said. "I am very pleased to say that our Leadership Team and staff were able to respond quickly and continue to work as per normal during this period."
This event provided Council with a real-time test of security processes. Fire drills occur every six months as is good practice, and lock-down drills may well be added in the future.
The staff member involved was obviously shaken from the event, but was pleased to be able to utilise the conflict management skills acquired as part of Council's training and development programme.
Police advised Council once the person concerned had been apprehended and the lock-down came to a swift end. Given the circumstances of the situation, Council decided a trespass notice with a formal warning was appropriate but no charges will be laid against the member of the public.
Council services are now fully operational and continue as normal.