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Coroners and other whingers responsible for chase deaths

  • June 21st, 2010

Once again the Hon Judith Collins, Minister of Police has the courage to say what few in authority have been willing to say for some years. This time her simple determination – that the Police should not back off for fear of causing offenders to crash if they flee at high speed –  highlights the contrast with her predecessors. She did not say "good riddance" but she was clear:

 . "Police are not going to stand by and let dangerous drivers take over the roads and put innocent people's lives at risk."
Ms Collins says reviews have suggested the pursuits policy be fine tuned but she believes that in general, the policy is very sound. "

The DomPost this morning quoted Police Association President Greg O'Connor saying "There's a generation growing up that know that if they drive fast enough, police will be forced to pull out. You're actually, perversely, making the roads more dangerous."

Sadly, politically correct Commissioners and the IPCA and coroners have created that generation. There is nothing wrong with having internal rules to limit pointless speed chases when there are other ways to apprehend people. Innocent people are killed in chases. But the best way to prevent them is likely to be minimising the number of chases by near certainty that they will not pay for the offender, not by micromanaging Police conduct to the point where there is a good chance they will be ineffective.

It will take some years now of obvious determination by the Police to ensure that bolting at high speed does not pay, to rebuild the folk lore knowledge that it is simply not worth trying to outrun the Police.

There may be safer ways to pursue fleeing wrongdoers. David Farrar mentions helicopters. They are too expensive for much routine work, but the time must be coming when unmanned flying camera technology will be cost effective.

Whatever is used there must be a determination throughout the criminal justice system to ensure that rules mean what they say. The current situation is another illustration of the common experience – that soggy minds with the best intentions can be the greatest cause of tragic unintended consequences. The worst policy in this area is to leave open a reasonable prospect of a successful gamble by offenders. We know they have a higher propensity to gamble than non-offenders.

The kindest law is not the one that "treats each situation on its merits". It is probably the one that seems the toughest with the least incentive to gamble.

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