Police response to IPCA findings in waterfront pursuit
Police response to IPCA findings in Wellington waterfront pursuit
Please attribute to Acting Wellington District Commander Superintendent Steve Kehoe:
Police accepts the main findings of an Independent Police Conduct Authority report into the pursuit of a fleeing driver along the Wellington waterfront in April 2016.
An officer in an unmarked police car commenced a pursuit in central Wellington after the driver of a Mitsubishi failed to stop.
The pursuit unexpectedly ended up on the Wellington waterfront after the fleeing driver gained entry due to a missing bollard allowing access.
We acknowledge the IPCA finding that before entering the waterfront, the pursuit was justified and the officer provided sufficient information to the dispatcher and pursuit controller, who then appropriately considered all relevant risk factors.
But we accept that once the pursuit entered the Wellington waterfront the officer driving the unmarked police car should have recognised the extreme risk to members of the public and abandoned the pursuit immediately.
We also accept the finding that the lack of any communications by the officer while he was pursuing on the waterfront meant that the pursuit controller had insufficient information to manage this aspect of the incident, and had no knowledge of how the pursuit had progressed or of the significant risks involved.
In addition to the Authority’s report, the matter was investigated by Police and put before the courts.
We note that during the court process it was established beyond reasonable doubt that the officer pursued the Mitsubishi at an average speed of 39kph, following factual evidence provided by a Police crash investigator.
We acknowledge the Authority has reached a different view based on the threshold of balance of probabilities.
Fleeing driver situations are often complex and require our staff to make difficult decisions in rapidly evolving circumstances, but we acknowledge that better communication and risk assessment could have been used in this instance.
We note that the driver involved in this pursuit was charged and put before the court following this incident.
The officer pleaded guilty and was discharged without conviction.