It’s a short cut to becoming an ex-law-breaker – you put your foot down and try to outrun the cops

I'll take the low road Fred, so you take the high road

I’ll take the low road Fred, so you take the high road and we’ll cut the speedster off at the pass.

Here we go go again.

The cops will be under fire for chasing a law-breaker, now an ex-law-breaker, who didn’t get the message about being unfit to drive earlier in the night when they took her car keys from her.

Hospital staff are helping to clean up the resultant mess.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been alerted, too, and will be expected to find out what went wrong.

The answer is glaringly obvious to Alf.

When her keys were taken, the woman was forbidden from driving for 12 hours. At least, that’s what the cops say.

According to a Radio NZ report here:

The woman, 21, believed to be from Whanganui, died instantly when she lost control of the car she was driving during a police pursuit and hit a tree.

Police say she was breath-tested earlier in the evening and her keys were seized when she was found to have excess breath alcohol.

A police spokesperson says the woman then obtained another set of keys and was driving with six people in the car, when police tried to stop her at 11.40pm.

Two passengers were admitted to Whanganui Hospital for surgery, two were still in the emergency department at the time Radio NZ made its inquiries, and two had been discharged.

And sure enough…

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been advised.

A few days ago the authority released a report into the death of 18 year-old James Dean Miles following a police pursuit north of Katikati in late 2012.

It found the cops followed all relevant policy and acted appropriately during the pursuit.

In that case, on 12 November 2012 police received a report that a Hyundai vehicle had dangerously overtaken a truck and trailer unit on State Highway 2 north of Waihi.

Responding to this report a cop left Waihi police station and attempted to catch up with the Hyundai, which Miles was driving.

At this time the officer was also advised that the Hyundai was stolen. A second officer was also dispatched from Katikati to assist.

After following Mr Miles, who was at this time driving normally in a line of traffic, the second officer attempted to catch up to Mr Miles. As the officer approached the top of Kauri Point Road he saw the Hyundai, approximately 150 metres ahead, accelerate in an effort to evade apprehension. At this time the pursuit began.

The officer advised Police communications that the Hyundai had failed to stop and after temporarily losing sight of the vehicle the officer saw Mr Miles overtake a mobile home travelling down Young’s Hill before overtaking a second vehicle.

Shortly after the officer reported that the Hyundai had collided with an oncoming vehicle. The officer called for fire and ambulance units but Mr Miles died at the scene. The driver of the oncoming car sustained multiple fractures to his right leg as well as cuts to his left leg and head.

Witnesses subsequently told Police that Mr Miles’ vehicle has crossed into the oncoming lane moments before the collision.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority’s chair, Judge, Sir David Carruthers said this was a short pursuit that covered approximately 1.3 kilometres and lasted 42 seconds.

“During that time Police involved complied with policy in commencing the pursuit. They properly assessed the risks involved during the pursuit, and informed the Police Communications Centre of their assessments.

“It was a tragic incident caused by the actions of Mr Miles, an unlicensed driver at the time of the incident that resulted in his death and caused injury to others.

“In this instance the Authority has not found any breach of Police policy. However, the Authority is continuing to work closely with Police in a revision of policies connected with the pursuit of fleeing drivers,” Sir David said.

A few weeks ago at Kiwiblog, David Farrer seized on a Stuff report by Colin Espiner, who had reported that in the past eight years police pursuit policy has been reviewed five times, including a major overhaul in 2007 that led to stricter controls being placed around chasing offenders, including overall responsibility for a pursuit handed over to police comms rather than officers in the pursuing vehicle.

Espiner, who can be a bit of a tosser, proceeded to huff:

Yet the carnage has continued unabated, chiefly because the police bottom line has always been there is “insufficient evidence” to support banning pursuits and that the public itself would not support police allowing offenders to flee without giving chase.

The rationale seems to be that if police did not chase suspects they would get away, and therefore the end – catching the bad guys – justifies the means, even if that leads to the deaths of either the offenders or worse, an innocent member of the public.

He proceeded to note that Tasmania and Queensland have banned police pursuits in all but the most serious of circumstances after suffering a spate of deaths from crashes during pursuits.

Dunno what has happened in those states as a consequence.

But David Farrar dug up some stats about what has happened in Victoria with limited pursuits:

In 2006 when pursuit guidelines were tightened, there were 186 reports of drivers evading police. Seventy-seven drivers or 41 per cent weren’t caught.

The following year the crime rate more than tripled with 589 drivers refusing to stop. 39 per cent were never found.

By 2010, 972 attempted to evade police with 45 per cent of those succeeding for good.

Last year evade police reports exploded to 1508 reported offences, 989 drivers or almost 60 per cent, are still on the run.

As the admirable Mr Farrar observed, this is totally predictable, if you make it voluntary – in effect – to stop for the police.

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