30 May 2018

'Police need to be adults' on police chases - lawyer

11:17 am on 30 May 2018

Police's "cops and robber" approach to pursuits is a failure and the government needs to ban them unless there is a serious crime happening, a lawyer says.

Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Yesterday, national road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally told Morning Report the pursuit policy was fit for purpose.

He made the remark after a 15-year-old boy being chased by officers in Palmerston North crashed and was killed, along with a 12-year-old female passenger.

A 15-year-old female passenger remains in Palmerston North Hospital in a stable condition.

Mr Greally said the pursuit policy was "the best it could possibly be" and more liberal policies used in others countries did not work.

He said police were committed to doing things better.

Lawyer Deborah Manning today told Morning Report she did not understand why police were defending what she called a failed policy.

She said the police could follow what overseas counterparts do.

"Which is we don't chase unless there's a serious crime going on, we don't chase for traffic offences, we don't chase for stolen cars.

"Our young people should not be ending up killed so often for minor offences," she said.

"Police just need to be the adults here and they need to stop chasing" unless there was serious crime happening, she said.

She said New Zealand had three times the number of chases compared to Victoria, Australia, and three times the number of deaths.

"It's just nonsense to be chasing a 15-year-old.

"It really concerns me that these families seem to be blaming themselves - the families of the passengers. The police need to take a good hard look at themselves.

"We need to, frankly, grow up and get with the programme and stop this cops and robbers approach."

Police declined to be interviewed in response to Ms Manning's comments.

The number of people killed while fleeing police in the past two years now stands at 21, and a review of chases is expected later in the year.

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