A police pursuit that covered 10.8km and resulted in a crash at a busy intersection followed police policy, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has said.
In a report published today the authority found Rotorua police officers involved in the pursuit in order to apprehend three "dangerous and threatening men" , were justified in their actions.
The pursuit was on May 26 last year and was started after police received a call from a member of the public who reported three men acting suspiciously in a Mazda MPV.
The vehicle matched that of a car that was reported stolen two days earlier and followed two aggravated robberies.
Police suspected the three occupants of the stolen car were those who had committed the robberies in the days before.
Police found the vehicle in Ngongotaha and signaled the driver to stop. When the driver failed to do so police began pursuing the Mazda.
During the pursuit the driver of the Mazda drove through red lights, overtook other cars and drove for short periods on the wrong side of the road.
At one stage the pursuit was abandoned due to the high level of risk, but was restarted a short time later when the risk had reduced.
The car finally came to a stop 21 minutes after the initial pursuit began, when the driver swerved to avoid a car and hit a traffic pole.
No one was injured as a result of the crash and damage to the vehicle was minor.
Following the incident two of the three offenders fled into nearby bush and were tracked by a police dog and subsequently apprehended. All three offenders were arrested following the incident.
Authority chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said in releasing the report that police were justified in commencing the pursuit and in the circumstances their speed and manner of driving during the pursuit complied with police policy.
"At the time of the pursuit traffic volume was low, the speed of the pursuit was relatively low and there were very few pedestrians," he said.
"Throughout the pursuit police balanced the risks of continuing the pursuit with the need to apprehend the dangerous offenders.
"The lead pursuit officers both undertook thorough and continuous risk assessments in relation to the manner of driving and the authority has found that given the very serious offending involved, the officers' driving did not present an unjustified risk," Sir David said.
"The authority also found that following the pursuit the use of the police dog to track the two offenders who fled the scene was justified, and was the only realistic tactical option available," Sir David said.
As a result of this incident all three men aged 16, 17 and 18 were charged with offences relating to the events of May 24 to 26.
Police said they accepted the findings of the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
Bay of Plenty District Commander, Superintendent Andy McGregor said all pursuits were unpredictable and present staff with a number of challenges.
"It is clear from the findings that staff involved in this situation made sound judgement calls to minimise the risk to public safety," Mr McGregor said.
"It is a good demonstration of the robustness of police policies on pursuits, and the professionalism of the staff who find themselves in these dynamic situations."