New Zealand Police sorry for crash death tweet

New Zealand Police tweet Image copyright @NZPolice/Twitter

New Zealand Police has apologised after an "insensitive" tweet about road death victims.

Criticism on social media labelled the tweet "tone-deaf" and "staggering".

"When we have to tell someone their family member has died in a crash," said the tweet from the official New Zealand Police twitter account, alongside a gif featuring American Office star Steve Carell.

"This is the worst," read the subtitle to the gif.

One social media user was quick to hand the police an award for "social media fail of the week", describing the tweet as "tone-deaf".

Another predicted an imminent deletion and was proven right.

Responding, the New Zealand Police explained that they had meant to convey how hard it is for officers to tell people of a loved one's death.

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The tweet was indeed deleted and the New Zealand Police issued an apology.

"Staggering that anyone even considered tweeting that, let alone searched for the meme, drafted the tweet and then shared with the world," advised one social media user with a background in consulting and community relations in Australia.

But others applauded the police for the swiftness of their response and for apologising.

"Thinking of the social team at New Zealand Police today," one tweeted. "A bad call but good on you for being upfront and apologising as soon as possible."