South Auckland police chase should have been abandoned - IPCA

1:19 pm on 22 November 2016

Two police officers who were chasing a stolen car in south Auckland disregarded the rules for pursuing fleeing drivers, and the directions of the person who was controlling the pursuit, the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) has found.

Police car at a check point in Mana, Wellington.

Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

IPCA chair Judge Sir David Carruthers said the chase in August last year should have been abandoned sooner because of the risks involved.

A 16-year-old was behind the wheel of the car, which was being driven at speed, at night, with its headlights off, and at times on the wrong side of the road.

In its report, the IPCA said two police cars were involved in the pursuit and it was abandoned a number of times.

Despite this, two officers in one car continued the chase, and disregarded the explicit instructions of the controller of the pursuit not to re-engage.

"The two officers knew that a young person was behind the wheel and was driving in an increasingly dangerous manner on public roads to try to avoid apprehension.

"In addition, it was dark, the Mazda had a punctured tyre and there were other young people in the car. Despite this, the two officers did not comply with the fleeing driver policy," Sir David said.

"Their actions amounted to a significant departure from the fleeing driver policy and also compromised the pursuit controller's ability to control the pursuit."

Police said they had accepted the IPCA's findings.

Counties Manukau District Commander superintendent John Tims said shortly after the incident police conducted their own review and action was taken in respect of a number of officers involved.

"Police do note that, while there was no death and or injury as a result of this incident, we still investigate any matter which may display a departure from police policy," he said.

Police said changes had recently been made to the fleeing driver policy, and officers had been reminded of their obligations to ensure that all relevant information is given to communication centres when a fleeing driver situation begins.

The IPCA made no specific recommendations for police.