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Police must lead in putting brakes on chases

CANDOR media release

Police must lead in putting brakes on chases

The Candor Trust is pleased the Police Association has finally put its support behind it's long campaign for changes to the Police chase culture prevalent in New Zealand. But the focus on harsher penalties only addresses quarter of the problems leading NZ to have perhaps the highest ratio of Police chase deaths within it's road toll, in the world.

What must be remembered among all the reactionary outcry is that Sergeant Derek Wootton, died after a poorly controlled high-speed Police chase. Candor Trust long predicted such an event, and more like it will occur.

Police Association spokesman Greg O'Connor has called for instant vehicle seizure and imprisonment for drivers who failed to stop, saying drivers were increasingly "having a go" at fleeing.

This is long advocated by Candor Trust, although Annette King has repeatedly knocked back requests for such changes, has tried to refute the statistics Candor has presented to Parliament, and has declined requests for urgent meetings in relation to such matters in the past year.

O'Connor is however wrong to say that "It's almost like everything is geared around putting restraints on law enforcers. The power is with the law-breakers". The power is actually first and foremost with the Police. If they cut their 2000 chases per year down to solely necessary ones (violent and serious offenders only) there would be less pressure on Police Communications at the time they were handling chases.

Then patrol cars coming from diferent directions in a chase would not have head ons as in Whangarei a week ago. And spike layers would perhaps have sufficient advance warning a chase convoy is imminent.

A full review of chase policy with consultation among all affected communities (not just Police) is what is needed. Not solely toughening the law on fugiitives. This in itself as a standalone change, without the benefit of several other supportive changes in policy to reduce Police discretion to commence chases would only increase the likelihood of suspects fleeing.

The bulk of trauma from chases is borne by civilians and offenders, and the NZ trend is for deaths to occur as a result of minor infringements triggering chases. This is not best Policing practise and quota driven chases are no longer permitted in many jurisdictions. The Trust believes such chases contravene the NZ Bill of Rights, because Government Policy must not make deaths by the hand of Government agents likely. This will be raised with the Human Rights Commission.

Supportive info

Press Release made days before the Polices tragedy which came atop many civilian ones.



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