A former police officer who says his mentally ill son is an accident waiting to happen on crowded holiday roads is frustrated at the lack of action taken by his former colleagues in the police.
The man, who we will not name to protect the privacy of his son, said his son suffers from bipolar disorder and had gradually been becoming more unwell since Christmas.
The son turned up at his parents' house on Saturday morning and was "completely off his head - I don't know what word to use to describe it, he was just very mentally unwell and unstable," his mother said.
"He abused us and got in his van and took off. He's just so unwell it's unbelieveable."
Fearful for people he might harm on the road, his mother called 111. Police located his vehicle at an address, but said there was nothing more they could do, she said.
"I'm not happy with that, I feel the least they could have done was knocked on the door and assessed him and been proactive in this situation.
"They said all they could do was wait for him to drive around and pick him up then."
The father said if the police had knocked on the door and seen what state their son was in, they would have realised he was unwell and definitely should not have been on the road.
"They've been going on since Christmas about this damn road toll, and here we are trying to be proactive in stopping both him hurting himself, and more importantly, him running over some kid in the street.
"He's a danger on the road, but they're just not interested."
After 28 years service to the police, he said "it's really put me off them".
"Their attitude these days is like a police state, and unless they can issue a ticket for revenue gathering, they're not interested.
"We're trying to work with the police, not against them, and it's just become so frustrating," the dad said.
Police would not comment on this specific incident when contacted by Fairfax NZ, but referred to rules under the Land Transport Act.
Under the Act, only when a person who holds a driver licence is undergoing a compulsory treatment order as an inpatient or becomes a special patient under the Mental Health Act can their licence be suspended immediately.
Mental health professionals are also required under the Act to test their patient's medical fitness to drive. They also have to advise the NZ Transport Agency when a patient poses a danger to public safety by continuing to drive.
"We need to be confident, with so much at stake, that all the drivers on our roads are medically fit to control their vehicle, see other road users, make speed and distance judgements and react safely to a potentially hazardous situation," said Geoff Dangerfield, chief executive of the transport agency.
- The Dominion Post