A frustrated and disgruntled Oamaru WINZ customer allegedly threatened a security guard on Tuesday afternoon.
The event occurred just after 4pm and police say the male customer became impatient about having to wait to be seen.
Tuesday’s threat is the first to have happened in Oamaru since the shooting incident in Ashburton just over a fortnight ago, in which WINZ workers Leigh Cleveland and Peggy Noble were killed and Lindy Curtis suffered serious injuries.
Ministry of Social Development chief executive Brendan Boyle said the ministry was working hard to deal with such situations.
“There have been a number of threats to Work and Income offices over the past two weeks since the Ashburton attack.
“We take very seriously any threats to MSD staff.
“While some of these may be idle threats, police are taking action on each threat. In some cases, this includes shutting down sites until we’re confident staff are safe,” Mr Boyle said.
Since the Ashburton incident, security at all WINZ buildings has increased.
Oamaru Police were notified of the incident about 4pm on Tuesday afternoon, and attended the call, however the culprit had left by the time police arrived.
Sergeant Tony Woodbridge said police inquiries were continuing.
“We have a very close relationship with Oamaru WINZ and we work closely with them, and will continue to do so.”
Police hope to speak to the man today and have not ruled out laying charges against him.
Mr Woodbridge said people needed to realise working for a public agency could be a very tough job.
Meanwhile, in the Oamaru District Court yesterday Jade Allan Knight, 34, of Oamaru, was convicted and sentenced to 40 hours’ community work and ordered to pay $86.25 reparation for wilful damage after kicking a sliding door, causing it to derail, at the Oamaru WINZ office on August 29.
Judge Joanna Maze said although the incident occurred before the fatal shooting in Ashburton, it should be recognised that those who worked in the public service sector needed to feel safe in their working environment.
By BRAYDEN LINDSAY