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'Unjustified risks' in Akld police chase

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/12/2016
Police car © Getty Images Police car

Police took "unjustified risks" while pursuing a fleeing driver in Auckland and repeatedly crashing into their car, the police watchdog has concluded.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority says some officers did not follow fleeing driver policy and that their actions put the occupants in danger, as well as other road users.

Up to six police cars were involved in the pursuit in September last year, which was sparked when the driver of a Honda failed to stop at drink-drive checkpoint.

They followed the Honda as it drove the wrong way along the Southern and South-Western Motorways, and crashed into it in an attempt to get it to stop.

After about 40 minutes the driver of the Honda stopped and the five occupants fled on foot. They were later arrested.

ICPA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers says the dangerous pursuit should not have continued like it did and should have been abandoned when it became clear that efforts to stop the fleeing driver had failed.

The pursuit controller did not know there were up to six police cars in the chase and their "inappropriate" direction on reasonable force meant the officers thought they could use their cars to stop the Honda.

"These additional officers should not have actively participated in the pursuit and breached policy and increased the risk to others in doing so," Sir David said.

Auckland police have accepted the findings and say the IPCA's recommendations will be considered, but noted officers were justified in starting the chase.

"Police have a range of work underway that will not only address this issue, but will allow us to have a greater awareness of where our staff are deployed," district commander, Superintendent Karyn Malthus said a statement.

Supt Malthus said fleeing driver policy was continuously under review.

Meanwhile, because some officers weren't identified, the authority has recommended a new process that ensures both drivers and passengers of police vehicles are readily identifiable.

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