New police pursuit policy aims for greater safety on Victorian roads
VICTORIA Police has implemented new changes to its pursuit policy after an extensive review found a greater balance between protecting life and arresting offenders needs to be struck.
The review was conducted in response to a series of recommendations to the policy made by the State Coroner in 2014.
Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said changes needed to be made after a “stark” pattern in police pursuit data came to light.
The number of Police pursuits has risen over the past three years with 900 pursuits occurring in 2012, just over 1300 in 2013 and approximately 1700 in 2014.
Such an increase in pursuits is likely to compound the risks for drivers.
According to Police pursuit data, in 2014 two people were killed and 13 civilians were seriously injured as a result of Police pursuits on Victorian roads.
“I’m not going to continue to see people put at risk as a consequence of someone fleeing police members and putting themselves, police and the broader community at risk,” said Mr Hill.
In order to ensure maximum safety Victorians will see fewer pursuits conducted on our roads.
Mr Hill said Police will only conduct pursuits in “certain circumstances” and will always consider the risks that can happen during those circumstances.
The reviewed policy states pursuits will only be conducted if there is an urgent need to apprehend the vehicle occupant/s because it is necessary to prevent a serious risk to public health and safety.
Victoria Police has issued a statement saying, “The overall harm we are seeking to prevent is greater than the risks involved in conducting the pursuit”.
But the policy is expected to face some criticism from the public after the new guidelines may encourage more crime and evasion on our roads.
Noel Mcnamara, president of the Crime Victims Support Association has fears that the new policy will result in difficulty for discipline to ensue on our roads.
“Absolute madness to call off any pursuit on these people because it will just encourage them to do it more,” he said.
But Victoria Police has assured the public that many of these offenders who engage in pursuits are known to Police.
“Less Police pursuits results in a safer environment for the broader community, for our Police members and for that fleeing driver,” Mr Hill said.
Photo: Flikr / Kennedy Goodkey