Both the 1992 APPM Burnie dispute and the late December 1999 Lyttelton industrial dispute involved small bands of local police adopting peace-keeping and non-interventionist control of picket-lines. Considerable criticism from management, and subsequently the judiciary, was directed against the non-confrontational police response. Judicial criticisms of police handling of both disputes failed to consider the adverse consequences of a return to a traditionally aggressive policing approach. This article argues that the local relationship between union officials and local police was a significant factor in limiting violence and that a resort to belligerent policing of picketing should be resisted. The similarities of police and union approaches in both cases were stark, as were the criticisms of alleged police inactivity.