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IPCA findings on fleeing driver crash accepted

IPCA findings on fleeing driver crash accepted

Police accept the findings of an Independent Police Conduct Authority report that found the pursuit of a fleeing driver in Tauranga was justified but some actions by the officer driving did not comply with police policy.

The report relates to an incident where a man and a woman had assaulted two people as they returned to their car and subsequently stole their vehicle.

A short time later the male driver of the stolen vehicle failed to stop for police. During the subsequent pursuit the stolen vehicle started driving on the wrong side of Cameron Road and was still being pursued by police when it crashed at a roundabout, seriously injuring the female passenger. The driver was subsequently found to have a breath alcohol level almost twice the legal limit for his age, and was charged with driving with excess breath alcohol causing injury, reckless driving causing injury and aggravated robbery. He was convicted and sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment. The female passenger was convicted of aggravated robbery and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

The IPCA found that the pursuit complied with the police fleeing driver policy in terms of its initiation and the communication. However it concluded that not enough weight was given to the increased risk of pursuing the stolen vehicle at speed on the wrong side of the road.

Acting District Commander for Bay of Plenty Police, Detective Inspector Tim Anderson, said: “We always welcome independent scrutiny into these situations as it is an important part of ensuring transparency and accountability, and to identify lessons that can help improve our practices, policies and procedures. Fleeing driver incidents always present a real challenge to police. They are unpredictable, fast-paced situations with officers having to make equally fast-paced judgements and decisions, all the while balancing the risks posed by pursuits with the need to protect the public from the offenders.

“We have no intention of handing over the roads to those who think they are above the law. The prison sentences handed down to these particular individuals reflect the disregard they had that night for both people and property, not hesitating to use violence for their own gain. The public tells us that they do not want criminals on our roads and in our communities, and offenders can expect us to make full use of our resources to hold them to account. However we are also committed to maintaining high levels of safety and will continue to identify opportunities to improve and enhance our training and the way in which we respond to these situations.”

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