Police consider trialling no-pursuit policy for young drivers

The remains of the car which burst into flames after a crash that claimed three lives, following a police pursuit in central Christchurch. - Photo: Supplied / NZ Police

The police are open to considering a 12 month trial where they won't pursue young drivers.

It's a response to pressure from the Children's Commissioner who says too many youngsters are being killed or injured in pursuits.

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act show that in the past two years, more than 980 young drivers have been chased by the police.

Four of them were killed, including 15-year-old Morocco Tai, who crashed 52 seconds after police started a pursuit in Auckland.

His mother Jo-ann Stevens said a no-pursuit policy may have saved her son's life.

She said Morocco would have certainly ended up back at home, where police would have been able to apprehend him without fuss.

Last year on Morning Report the National Road Policing Manager, Steve Greally, defended the policy saying it was "the best it could possibly be."

But, a review last month by the Independent Police Conduct Authority found that police needed to do further research on why drivers flee.

Gini Welch who is Acting National Manager for Road Policing said they were taking that on board.

"We have invited the Children's Commissioner to work with us in progressing some of the recommendations in the action plan," she said.

"In particular, the recommendation in respect of commissioning research to provide us a much clearer understanding of the behaviour of young drivers."

The Children's Commissioner Andrew Becroft was heartened the police were finally looking into young people and pursuits.

He had been pushing for a year-long no pursuit trial and said a recent meeting with police leaders was a step toward that.

"That was a very productive and constructive discussion with senior police who are open to looking at all options and alternatives and open to considering my calls, for say, a pilot of the very policy that I'm taking about."

Judge Becroft said most young drivers who flee had committed offenses that did not warrant a high-speed chase, and too many were dying needlessly.

He said that police should only chase young people in exceptional circumstances like the threat of homicide or serious injury.

The police have given no timeframe for when any change to the pursuit policy might happen, but say all options are on the table.

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