Report finds police aren't adequately trained for 'complex and dynamic' pursuits

Police need a "risk-averse mindset" when it comes to managing fleeing drivers, the latest police pursuit report has found.

The report comes after the deaths of four people involved in police pursuits in 2019, and six in 2018.

Read more: 'Thrill of the chase' - too many pursuits are done by young male cops chasing young male drivers, advocate says

Since 2008 there have been more than 30,000 pursuits, hundreds of crashes and dozens of deaths.

Chair of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) Judge Colin Doherty told media today the report analysed 268 events involving fleeing drivers. 

The Sunday programme this week investigates whether police should they be chasing fleeing drivers or whether the cost is too high and it is time for a change. Sunday, 7.30pm, TVNZ 1.

"It is clear the training police currently receive does not adequately prepare them for these complex and dynamic events."

The review made eight recommendations, which include reviewing the police driver programme, upskilling police in fleeing driver events, strengthening the follow up following a chase and explore improving communication such as installing GPS in all police cars. 

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"It's a big undertake, it would be an expensive undertake…it’s not all going to happen overnight," Judge Doherty said in reference to GPS. 

When asked if the IPCA were recommending all police should receive additional police pursuit training, Judge Doherty said, "if possible". 

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Barrister Deborah Manning told Breakfast she thinks it is the ‘thrill of the chase’ and attitudes need to change. Source: Breakfast

"The whole of training aspect looked at... We say [there's] not enough, police accept not enough."

Almost 3800 drivers fled from police in 2017, making it the highest number recorded.

Despite police abandoning 55.5 per cent of chases, 626 of the total still resulted in a crash (180 after police abandoned pursuit). 

The crashes saw 12 deaths, 57 serious injuries and 101 minor injuries. 


Of the 159 that could be identified from the report sample, nearly all drivers were male, more than half of the drivers were serious criminal offenders with multiple convictions. Over half were Māori and over half did not have a license. One third already had a previous conviction for fleeing police.

Currently, risk assessment tools are intended to be used by police in pursuits, however, some police are more risk tolerant and are inclined to take unnecessary risks, Judge Doherty said.

The report recommends an improvement of how staff make risk assessments, saying that police currently are not receiving adequate training for "complex and dynamic" events.

It says the current police pursuit policy is sufficient if it is to be applied with the correct training. 

Police welcomed and accepted the report, with commissioner Mike Bush saying "there are clear areas we can, and need to improve". 

"This includes improving how some of our staff conduct risk assessment, providing enhanced cognitive-based training for managing these complex and high-risk events, and improving communication between our frontline staff and our communications centres."

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It’s the first joint review by police and its watchdog body, the IPCA. Source: 1 NEWS