Ask A Cop: Reader Mailbag

Sergeant Matt Murray

Sergeant Matt Murray from Waitemata District Police kindly answered some questions from our readers this month relating to trespass notices.

Q: Can you trespass someone verbally or does it have to be written?

A: While it’s perfectly legal to verbally trespass someone from your premises, it can be difficult and problematic to enforce the order or prosecute that person if they return to your premises.

The main problem with a verbal trespass is that it’s easy to create ambiguity about the service of the trespass order that can make it unenforceable from a court’s standpoint. For example, a person being prosecuted for violating a verbal trespass order can give conflicting evidence or testimony, and there’s little or no documentation to support the other side. And if there’s any confusion about the circumstances under which the order was served, like what was explained to the respondent about returning to the premises or the implications should they return, then it’s likely the court will rule the order invalid and the prosecution will not succeed.

When a person is served a formal written trespass notice and provided a copy, a lot of the ambiguity around the service of that order and the implications of returning to the address can be negated—they’re all there in print. The issuer of the trespass notice can simply refer to the trespass notice in court, as all relevant information is listed around the service, location/address trespassed from, implication if they return, length notice is in effect, etc. This evidence is much more effective in court and results in a far higher probability of conviction for trespass.

Q: Why haven’t Police attended my breach of trespass incident?

A: Police have dedicated response vehicles called ‘I-cars’, and the events these vehicles attend is heavily prioritised based on other competing situations requiring Police presence. Sometimes competing priorities mean these cars can’t attend complaints of shoplifting and/or trespass incidents, and the complainants of these incidents are referred to the Crime Reporting Line (CRL). 

[Editor’s Note: this is where crime incidents officially reported to Police through Auror go.] 

It’s important to know however that even if a car can’t attend, breach of trespass incident reports received by the CRL are often referred to an Investigation Support Unit (ISU). The ISU is where the legality of the trespass notice is considered along with the nature/circumstances of the trespass complaint, and a recommendation for further action is made.

If you’re using Auror, you can supply a scanned copy of the trespass notice along with some proof of ID (copy of D/license, 18+ card, community services card, photo, etc.) directly to the ISU for entering into Police computer systems through the Evidence Locker on the Auror platform. This process will result in a streamlined process for trespass notices to be entered in Police systems.

Got a question for Matt? Send it to support(at) and it may get featured next time!