Police pursuits

The Herald reports:

Two pursuits, one which resulted in the death of a 20-year-old fleeing driver, and another where four teenage girls were seriously injured, have been cleared as textbook responses by the watchdog.

The pursuits did not result in any deaths. Unless it is the police car that spins out of control and hits some pedesterians, it is not the pursuit that results in a death. It is the drunk, stoned, dangerous fleeing driver.

In both cases, the IPCA concluded that police not only considered all relevant risk factors before commencing each pursuit but also fully complied with the law and police policy during the pursuits.

The Auckland incident resulted in serious bodily harm to four girls during a 53-second police pursuit in Kohimarama on the night of March 3, this year.

Earlier that evening, the 16-year-old driver of a stolen Subaru legacy and her three passengers had been involved in a number of altercations which were reported to police.

There had been reports they had attacked another group of youths – even attempting to run them over – and damaged property at a cafe on Tamaki Drive, Mission Bay.

In responding to the reports, police tracked the car down and signalled the driver to stop.

But the female driver accelerated and shortly after hit a concrete island while attempting to overtake another car.

The driver and her occupants crashed into a concrete block wall, with all four sustaining serious injuries.

“This was a pursuit which lasted 53 seconds and covered approximately 1.4km prior to the crash,” IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said.

“Police complied with the law and policy throughout the pursuit and the communication, especially in relation to risk, was excellent.”

The Authority found that the main factors causing the crash were the driver’s excess speed and blood alcohol level.

There are obviously some circumstances where a pursuit should be abandoned. But you need to be careful about the incentives you create. If drivers know that the faster they flee, the more likely it is the Police will not follow them – well it provides an incentive to flee as fast as possible.

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