Police union calls for tougher penalties

By Kiri Gillespie

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Three people have died and an innocent motorist was seriously injured during Western Bay of Plenty police pursuits over the past three years.

A total of 68 pursuits took place last year, one resulting in the death of a driver getting away in a stolen car and serious injury to a motorist he collided with while fleeing police.

In 2012, two people died after the car they were in crashed headfirst into a tree at the northern end of Te Puke. The were fleeing police at the time.

Police Association Bay of Plenty and Waikato regional director Wayne Aberhart said tougher penalties were needed for fleeing drivers.

"If you don't stop, the penalties should be more severe," Mr Aberhart said.

"You will still get people fleeing and running, even if you do have harsher penalties but if it saves one or two lives, it's worth it."

In response to figures provided to the Bay of Plenty Times following a pursuit on Welcome Bay Rd at Queen's Birthday weekend, Mr Aberhart said there were stringent rules around police pursuits. More often than not these pursuits were stood down when it was considered unsafe, he said.

"Everything's taken into account - the time, area, speed, weather conditions. If it's 3pm on a school day in a residential area ... those are going to be factors."

All pursuits were closely monitored by police communications and any incident of a driver failing to stop for police was logged with communications, Mr Aberhart said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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