Gran calls for ban on police pursuits

01:43, Jan 31 2009

The grandmother of an Auckland boy seriously hurt in a freak accident during a police chase wants pursuits abolished as police reveal they have made 6000 of them in three years.

Nisha Ali's grandson, Farhat Buksh, 13, suffered serious head injuries after being hit by a lamp-post that toppled on to a Mt Albert pedestrian crossing in August, felled by a police car pursuing a suspected drunk driver.

Nearly three months later, he can attend school for only a few hours a day.

"He's not well ... He'll probably be a year behind," Ms Ali said.

In future, she said, police should simply note dangerous drivers' registration numbers and speak to them later.

Her comments follow the publication of a police review into pursuits in the past three years.

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It shows that, between April 2004 and May 2007, police took part in more than 6000 pursuits, an average of 162 a month.

Twelve people were killed in crashes resulting from police chases and 106 were injured.

The number of pursuits has risen since the last review in December 2003, covering the period between 1996 and 2002.

Only 875 pursuits were reported for all of 2002.

Deaths after pursuits were also up, with nine in the previous review.

Another teenager injured in a police chase, on the same day Farhat was hurt, was less critical of police.

Cameron Gubb, 17, of New Plymouth, was taken to hospital after an alleged drink-driver hit his car in a police pursuit on August 3.

"I don't see (the accident) as any fault of the police," he said. "Whoever they are chasing is not going to slow down. I just happened to be unlucky."

National road policing manager Superintendent Dave Cliff said police would follow the report's recommendation to review pursuit practices.

The statistics were skewed by a more efficient process for reporting pursuits.

"We think we have got far better recording, not an actual increase in the number of pursuits."

The public had developed a lower tolerance of dangerous driving and expected more stringent policing, he said.

"The population is rising and there are more motor vehicles on the road. There is far less tolerance by the general community for bad behaviour on the roads."

In August, the Police Complaints Authority launched its own review into police pursuits.

Authority investigations manager Allan Galbraith said the results were still at least a month away and the police review had not yet been digested.

Mr Cliff said police would await the authority's report before deciding what further analysis was required.

The Dominion Post