Lack of police pursuit 'turns roads over to criminals'

A police review of pursuit policy released in 2010 - the fourth in six years - said there was not enough evidence to ban pursuits. Photo / SNPA
A police review of pursuit policy released in 2010 - the fourth in six years - said there was not enough evidence to ban pursuits. Photo / SNPA

Rules on pursuing fleeing drivers are already too restrictive, and criminals would only be encouraged to drive faster and more dangerously if they knew unsafe driving would prompt police to give up the chase, said New Zealand Police Association vice-president Stuart Mills.

Four people died following an accident in Mangere on Friday night when their vehicle crashed into a parked car after fleeing police.

Officers need to be able to pursue drivers, "otherwise we turn the roads over to the criminals", Mr Mills said.

"We don't want to get to a stage where people think if they flee from a police officer they're going to get away." He said existing policy on fleeing drivers was very detailed and already quite restrictive, and he noted that police twice abandoned the fatal pursuit on Friday night.

"If people obey the law and pull over when indicated by police, we wouldn't have these situations."

A police review of pursuit policy released in 2010 - the fourth in six years - said there was not enough evidence to ban pursuits.

It said such a ban would not improve or guarantee public safety, and the community may not support a policy which let offenders flee police with little or no consequences.

The review did make 23 recommendations and changes to policy, including:

•Rolling out hands-free radio technology.

•Limiting the number of vehicles involved in a pursuit.

•Extending the circumstances under which a pursuit must be abandoned.

•Introducing a formal post-pursuit search procedure.

•Ongoing refresher training.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) chairwoman Justice Lowell Goddard said in cases where pursuits began over minor offending or general suspicions, the benefits did not appear to outweigh the risks.

"Drivers ... rather may be committing minor traffic offences and panic when confronted by the police."

Other fatal police pursuits

July 14, 2012: Driver Dylan James Kingi, 28, and passengers Peter John Bunyan, 27, and Holly Kay Gunn, 25, are killed in a crash following a pursuit in Gisborne. A third passenger, Claire Sophie Badger, 25, was seriously injured. The IPCA report released last week found the police officer did not follow some aspects of pursuit policy and should have called off the chase earlier.
September 18, 2011: Sina Naraghizadeh, 19, died after crashing while fleeing police in Hobsonville Rd, Massey, Auckland. Four passengers were injured. The IPCA found police complied with policy.
July 18, 2011: Caine Burgess, 20, died after colliding with another vehicle while fleeing police in Pukekohe. The IPCA found police complied with policy.
April 17, 2011: Luke John Bowman Yates, 22, crashed into a power pole and died after fleeing a police alcohol checkpoint near Taipa, Northland. An IPCA inquiry found police did not fully comply with policy in relation to speed, risk assessment, communications and abandoning the pursuit.
January 5, 2011: Timoti Mohi crashed at high speed into a power pole on Mount Hobson Rd, central Auckland, after a pursuit. Mohi was killed and a passenger seriously injured. The IPCA found the pursuit was justified and complied with policy.

Read more: Eight die in weekend road carnage

- APNZ

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