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Police Acknowledge IPCA Report Into Fatal Crash

Police acknowledge the report by the Independent Police Conduct Authority which found Police were not responsible for a car crash that resulted in the deaths of two men in Wellington on 26 March 2023.

The IPCA determined that the car crash was due to the actions of the driver who, while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, drove dangerously and lost control of his vehicle.

The report found that the actions of two Police officers to follow the speeding vehicle were reasonable and appropriate.

The pair had witnessed an act of dangerous driving which warranted their intervention to ensure public safety.

The Police Fleeing Driver Policy guides officers in their decision-making after a vehicle is signalled to stop and fails to do so.

Police officers must conduct a risk assessment and determine how to achieve the safest possible outcome in the event of a fleeing driver.

We accept that in this instance the officers involved breached the Fleeing Driver Policy by failing to complete a risk assessment, where a conversation did not take place between the officers regarding the course of action they would take should the offender fail to stop.

The other breach found was that the officers had not advised the Emergency Communications Centre at the earliest opportunity that the vehicle had fled Police.

We note that the IPCA deemed this did not have a causative effect with regards to the crash. Police provided support to the people involved in this tragic incident and their families. The officers involved in the incident have also received support.

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A review by Wellington Police made recommendations relating to increased training in driving training and pursuit policy at Police College.

We’re pleased that the recommendations have been acted upon, with the amount of time devoted to Recruit Driver Training at Police College doubled from 4.5 days to 9 days, including a practical session specifically focused on safe resolution of fleeing driver incidents.

Wellington District Commander Superintendent Corrie Parnell acknowledges that the tragic incident has had a lasting effect on all involved.

“We feel for the two families and friends who lost their loved ones, the passengers who were injured, and for two officers who were confronted with a tragedy that never needed to happen.

“Sadly, this crash was a result of a young driver’s bad decisions; a decision to ignore the friend who told him not to drive, a decision to ignore the passengers who asked him to slow down, and a decision to flee Police.

“Those decisions have affected a number of people, including the emergency service staff who tried hard to save lives on the side of a central Wellington street.

"We are always looking at how we can improve and ensure that a tragic incident like this does not happen again,” says Superintendent Parnell. “But our message to the public remains the same: If you’re under the influence, please never get behind the wheel.”

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