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Tim Dower: Police shouldn't ban pursuits

Author
Tim Dower,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Friday, 15 March 2019, 8:31a.m.
Photo / File.

We'll get details today from the Police Conduct Authority and police themselves of a major review of police chases or pursuits as they prefer to call them these days.

This came after a spate of horrific tragedies where drivers who'd refused to pull over, or had pulled over and then took off again, went on to crash with hideous consequences.

There's a good look at the numbers in today's Herald and I believe it's really important to bear these figures in mind.

In the past 10 years, there have been nearly 31,000 pursuits, over eight a day. They've been increasing steadily year after year.

For whatever reason, the car's stolen, the driver is drunk or unlicensed or wanted for some other kind of offence, whatever, people, and all too often it's younger people, making dumb decisions which have terrible consequences.

Obviously, I feel for the families who've lost young people in pursuits.

There's a woman's story in the paper today, saying in the case of her son who was killed in the Far North, police could have just come around the next day to deal with him.

Instead, they arrived at her house to explain her boy had died in a crash, taking off from a breath-test checkpoint.

I feel her pain, I truly do.

But I also feel for the cops who get caught up in these situations.

Can you imagine what effect that would have on you, just trying to do your job and keep the roads safe for everyone else, but ending having to tell a mother her child has been killed?

Can you imagine reliving that, over and over, asking if you could have done things differently?

So do we ban pursuits for that reason, if no other?

Of course not, police must go after drivers when they sense a danger to other road users, it's an absolute no-brainer.

The burden of responsibility lies with the person at the wheel and the people who teach them to drive.

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