The president of the Police Association has rubbished suggestions from a road safety campaigner that police should only pursue drivers in "extreme emergencies".

Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car review website, said fatalities after police pursuits are often preventable.

"I know that police hate to let offenders escape, but the fact remains that police chases often end in serious accidents involving innocent people."

Mr Matthew-Wilson's comments follow a series of accidents in recent weeks involving fleeing drivers, including one which killed 18-year-old Iranian Sina Naraghizadeh, who died instantly when he crashed a stolen Subaru in West Auckland on September 18.


"The sort of drivers who try and outrun police tend to be young males with criminal associations," Mr Matthew-Wilson said. "These drivers don't think of consequences - they get a rush of adrenaline and just take off at high speed. It's inevitable that a large percentage of these fleeing drivers will crash.

"The police have other options: they can use surveillance cameras, helicopters, road spikes, or simply notify other police cars and quietly pursue the fleeing vehicle at a distance."

Mr Matthew-Wilson also questioned whether police drivers are adequately trained.

"It's inevitable that a percentage of criminals in a car will get a rush of adrenaline and try to escape. However, the police who are pursuing a fleeing car shouldn't allow a rush of adrenaline to replace their own sound judgment."

Police Association president Greg O'Connor said Mr Matthew-Wilson's comments were "not necessarily well informed".

Mr O'Connor said changes to pursuit policy which have tightened the rules on police have increased, rather than decreased, the numbers of deaths due to fleeing drivers, because they "incentivise people to drive more dangerously".

"We're getting offenders, who are freely admitting they are only driving fast and dangerously because they knew that police would pull out," he said.

"The statistics show that most deaths and injuries happen within a very short time of the driver choosing to flee. And that in reality ... they are more [due to] police attempting to pull them over than police pursuits.


"In fact what's happened is that the more restrictions you put on police, as a result of commentary like this ... the more the very people who should be pulling over are being incentivised to drive more dangerously - thus the deaths."

Mr O'Connor said there needs to be a shift in the focus on pursuits.

"We call them fleeing drivers. To even call them pursuits is a misnomer, because it infers that you are focusing on the actions of police, whereas to call them fleeing drivers is putting emphasis where it should be.

"Only when we starting focusing on that will we get some realistic policies."

Mr O'Connor rejected the criticism police not trained adequately for chasing fleeing drivers, as those permitted to engage in pursuits have to be "gold class" drivers.

"The reality is the skills of police drivers is irrelevant because these accidents happen too quickly."