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Coroner's Recommendations To Shape Pursuit Policy

Coroner's recommendations will be considered in changes to police pursuit

The Northland Coroner’s recommendations following his findings into the death of Erin Burgess in Northland will be given close consideration by the team currently reviewing Police Pursuits Policy, the Deputy Commissioner Operations, Steve Long, said today.

"Police acknowledge the ongoing pain and grief experienced by the Burgess family over the death of Erin. While there is little we can do to heal the loss they have experienced through the grossly careless and dangerous actions of Kuran Brunton, we will do our utmost to minimise the likelihood of similar deaths."

Deputy Commissioner Long said that the Police Pursuits Review team supported by a reference group of external parties was nearing completion of its work. The Coroner’s report would certainly be taken into consideration before a report recommending changes to the Pursuits Policy was finalised by the Police Board of Commissioners’ in the new year.

In the meantime a directive would be issued to officers reinforcing that communications centres were to control the conduct of pursuits and that any order to abandon a pursuit must be actioned fully and without question.

"Lessons will certainly be learned from this tragedy, especially around the difficulties of achieving clear communication given the pressured environment of a pursuit conducted at high speeds.

"There are some differences of approach and interpretation between the Coroner’s and the Police report. The Police report along with a supplementary report from Detective Superintendent Shortland in response to the Coroner’s findings will be referred to the Police Complaints Authority for independent review.

"The original report by Detective Superintendent Shortland looked at issues of compliance and culpability and found no criminal or disciplinary liability. This conclusion was also reached by the Crown Solicitor. The Coroner with his terms of reference relating to the time, place, causes and circumstances of how Erin Burgess died, took a holistic approach and found elements of the Police Pursuit system wanting. Of that we are in agreement.

"Judgement calls were made by a number of Police officers operating in a difficult environment. Our objective must be to construct policy and provide training to ensure that officers engaging in pursuits are best equipped to undertake them with maximum safety," said Mr Long.

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