Source: New Zealand Government
Police Minister Stuart Nash is backing Police efforts to improve the way frontline officers handle fleeing driver incidents.
“The joint review of 268 fleeing driver incidents during 2017 was released today by Police and the IPCA. The review shows that in general, the Police approach to these events is fit for purpose,” Mr Nash says.
“The report challenges the myth that fleeing drivers are somehow less serious because it is ‘merely’ traffic offending. It found fleeing drivers are more likely to be active or serious and persistent criminals. Four out of five have a history of family harm and a high proportion have serious convictions, gang connections or have fled Police before.
“This is the sixth review of fleeing driver events since 2000. It finds there is no need for wholesale changes to the policy. Nevertheless there are opportunities for improvement.
“The current policy requires officers to continually assess risk, to make split second decisions, and to process complex and rapidly unfolding information. The review has found there are differences in how these practices are applied, and that some officers are more risk-averse than others.
“I support the decision to take a fresh look at training and to improve de-briefs for officers to help them better understand and manage risk.
“Police work hard to get the balance right between protecting the public from danger on the roads and the need to catch offenders who may be fleeing from earlier crimes. The events are high risk, yet there will always be occasions when Police need to pursue fleeing drivers. That practice will continue.
“We have a record high road toll. Other road users can rightly expect Police to take steps to catch offenders and to maintain a visible presence on our roads. Police are working hard to reduce the number of deaths and injuries.
“It is clear from trends over the past ten years that Police are increasingly abandoning pursuits due to concerns about risk and safety. This includes risks to themselves, the fleeing driver, and other road users.
“In 2018, Police abandoned 59 per cent of pursuits. In 2009 the figure was 30 per cent. We want our roads to be safe for all road users and others who may be caught up in a fleeing driver incident. Any death or injury on the road is a tragedy for families, and for the emergency services who are first on the scene.
“It is important that Police continually work to improve their policies and practices. They will update me every three months on progress they are making towards implementing the eight recommendations from the review.
“I also look forward to the results of further Police research into the behaviour and motivation of fleeing drivers. The best advice anyone can give a driver is to pull over when signalled by Police,” Mr Nash says.