A police officer who drove the wrong way on Auckland's Hobson Street before crashing with a fleeing driver has been found to have breached police policy, the Independent Conduct Authority has found.
On December 19, 2017, the officer was looking for a Subaru that had just been involved in a pursuit which police had abandoned.
The fleeing Subaru came around the corner from Cook Street onto Hobson Street at speed and through a red light, and collided with the officer’s patrol car, which was travelling the wrong way on the one-way road from Auckland Central Police Station.
Both vehicles were significantly damaged, but there were no injuries.
The driver of the Subaru was arrested and charged with failing to stop and reckless driving over the earlier pursuit.
The officer said he had been "urgent duty driving" at the time of the crash because he was searching for the Subaru. However, the authority did not accept this and said the officer breached the police’s ‘fleeing driver’ policy and that his driving was not necessary in the execution of his duty.
The authority also pointed out that police changed their ‘fleeing driver’ policy in 2016 to direct that when a pursuit has been abandoned, officers should not drive around the nearby area looking for the fleeing vehicle.
As well, 'urgent duty driving' is defined as driving by an officer "above the speed limit or the natural flow of traffic". The officer was not driving above the speed limit at the time he left the station and collided with the Subaru.
Authority chair, Judge Colin Doherty, said "there was no reason at all for the officer to attempt to locate the vehicle after the pursuit had been abandoned".