10 Jul 2013

Police union wants pursuit focus off officers

3:43 pm on 10 July 2013

The Police Association says continued public criticism of police pursuits focuses attention on the actions of officers, rather than the offenders.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is reviewing all the rules governing how and when to chase fleeing drivers, noting that officers are frequently breaking them. The decision follows a report on a 2010 chase that ended in a fatal crash.

The authority found police should have called off the pursuit earlier than they did but were ultimately not responsible for the tragedy.

Police Association national president Greg O'Connor says past coroners' recommendations and Independent Police Conduct Authority reports have resulted in changes to the way pursuits are carried out.

Mr O'Connor says there is always room for improvement but what is unfortunate is that investigations often criticise what officers did, even when their actions do not contribute to the crash.

"All the debates are around the actions of police and they should be focussed far more on the actions of the offender and what we can do to disincentivise these alcohol crazed, drug crazed and testosterone crazed young men from having a go."

Parents don't blame police

The parents of the young woman who died in the chase at the centre of the report say they hold no ill will toward the officers involved.

Georgina Stone-Te Haara, 20, was killed in the crash in Auckland in December 2010. Three people were injured, including the driver, Setefano Tonga, who was later jailed for manslaughter.

Julia Te Haara says she does not hold the police accountable for her daughter's death.

Ms Stone-Te Haara's father, Dion Stone, says the officers were possibly lacking in instinct and initiative on the day but he hopes they have learnt from their mistakes.

He says he is glad the authority has begun a wide reaching review of all pursuit policies.