Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Police firm on pursuit policy

Three teenagers have died in two separate police pursuits this year.
Three teenagers have died in two separate police pursuits this year.

Police will not change guidelines on when officers should pursue fleeing drivers, despite its independent watchdog wanting a review.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has pushed for a review for some time, and repeated that call after appearing before Parliament's law and order select committee yesterday.

Three teenagers have died in two separate police pursuits this year.

The police watchdog also revealed it had not investigated complaints of police using excessive force because it did not have the resources.

Warren Young, group manager of operations for the IPCA, said the authority believed there could be a way to provide clearer guidance for police officers about when to give chase, and when not to.

"We would like to have some clearer rules of thumb.

"Our objective would be to try to reduce some of those pursuits that result in tragic deaths of young people who are not a danger to wider members of the public."

Mr Young acknowledged police departments around the world were struggling with the issue.

Commissioner of Police Mike Bush said police had a robust policy for dealing with fleeing drivers. While an eye would always be kept on overseas jurisdictions to see if there was evidence for changes, he said he was comfortable with the policy and there were no plans for a review.

"I would like to acknowledge the tragedies and the families that have suffered in recent times; that is deeply concerning for all of us.

"But in relation to police action, our police staff are really professional in respect of how they manage these, we have a real low tolerance for risk, our staff withdraw from any fleeing driving incident as soon as it gets dangerous."

That position was backed by Police Minister Judith Collins, who said the police had to do their jobs.

Last week, in the wake of two separate crashes after police pursuits, Ms Collins said young people needed to be reminded of the "absolute stupidity" of fleeing police.

- NZ Herald

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