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Wellington waterfront police chase risky

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 16/05/2017

Two people were forced to leap over the side of a footbridge to avoid a police chase along a busy Wellington waterfront, which the Independent Police Conduct Authority has deemed unjustified.

The IPCA released its findings on Wednesday into the chase in April last year, where an officer in an unmarked police car pursued a man in a Mitsubishi who was suspected of theft.

The chase began on Oriental Parade, went the wrong way down Cable Street and then entered the waterfront area at Taranaki Street, next to the dive platform.

The officer did not confirm his location when asked by central communications and followed the Mitusbishi into a pedestrian area past Frank Kitts Park and towards TSB Arena.

The IPCA estimated the officer reached speeds of between 48km/h and 60km/h at times on a crowded waterfront on a sunny day.

"In the words of one witness 'there were children everywhere'," IPCA chairman, Judge Sir David Carruthers said.

"Two witnesses were forced to leap over the side of the footbridge and cling onto metal beams hanging above the lagoon to avoid the cars.

"A group of children were forced to the edge of the waterfront to avoid the cars."

The driver and passenger of the Mitusbishi were arrested a short time later.

The IPCA said the officer should have abandoned the pursuit as soon as the Mitusbishi drove onto the crowded waterfront and continuing it was unjustified.

"It is unacceptable that members of the public had to jump out of the way and climb over bridges to escape harm", says IPCA chairman Sir David Carruthers.

"The officer's decision to pursue the Mitsubishi, as well as the manner and speed of his driving, put the public at unjustified risk."

The officer was charged with dangerous driving and was discharged without conviction.

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