Police pursuit benefits don't outweigh risk: report

Few police pursuits uncover evidence of serious crimes and the risks often outweigh the benefits, an Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) report says.

Police assistant commissioner operations Viv Rickard said he had read the report and accepted its findings and recommendations.

The report analysed 137 pursuits reported to it during the five years to December 2008. During that period, 24 people died and 91 were seriously injured in the pursuits.

The report found relatively few pursuits uncovered evidence of serious crimes, other than those associated with the offender's driving.

Pursuits could begin over relatively minor offending, or general suspicion, and end in serious injury or death, IPCA chairwoman Justice Lowell Goddard said.

"In such cases, the benefits from pursuing and stopping an offender do not appear to have outweighed the risks," Justice Goddard said.

"In our view, the police pursuit policy could provide clearer guidance for officers on when they may pursue."

Mr Rickard said police would over the next few months be able to incorporate some findings from the report into policy.

"In saying that, what they have done is reinforced that the considerable amount of work that New Zealand police has done around our policy has also stated that the people responsible for these pursuits and the injuries that occur are the drivers and not the New Zealand police."

Mr Rickard said the IPCA had made some key recommendations, noting in particular the issue of motorcycle pursuits.

"Our data shows that you are 18 times more likely to be injured on a motorcycle than in a car, so police involved in pursuits of motorcycles, we need to take cognisance of that."

Police would also incorporate the IPCA's recommendation around risk assessment, he said.

"That's taking into account the number of people in the vehicle we are pursuing, the age of those people. I think that's important noting that a lot of people involved in pursuits are young."

NZPA