'They roar off at high speed - it doesn't mean cops have to do the same' - road safety campaigner calls for police chase policy change

A road-safety campaigner has compared police chases to "some cowboy posse" that results in "lots of dead bodies".

The comments from Clive Matthew-Wilson follow the deaths of two people in Auckland early yesterday after a driver hit a tree

The crash came after a police pursuit. Earlier this month, 15-year-old Morocco Tai died after crashing a stolen car in Otara. Police had earlier tried to stop the vehicle.

Matthew-Wilson said the police pursuit policy needed to change.

Road safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson has called for NZ Police to abandon its pursuit policy. Source: 1 NEWS

"The end result is lots of dead bodies," he said.

"If that's the result that you want it's working really really well because we have one of the highest rates of police chase deaths, per head of population, in the world."

Matthew-Wilson, of the Dog and Lemon Guide, said that in many states of Australia, high speed police car pursuits were banned.

In Queensland, he said, there have been zero pursuit deaths since police abandoned the practice except in emergencies.   

"We have a choice," he said.

"We can be right and self-righteous about it and say these idiots shouldn't be doing this.

"I agree they shouldn't but the reality is just because they don't think, and roar off at high speed, doesn't mean the cops have to do the same.

"The reality is there's plenty of ways of catching criminals and to quote the Queensland Police Commissioner 'we would rather drag them out of bed at 6 o'clock in the morning than drag them out of the wreck of the car they've just crashed'. 

"If you want the death penalty for driving without a warrant then come out and say it because that's the end result of this kind of chase."

A high-speed police pursuit in Auckland in the early hours of this morning has claimed the lives of a man and woman in their 20s. Source: 1 NEWS

In a statement, assistant commissioner of road policing, Superintendent Sandra Venables, didn't directly respond to the call for chases to be scrapped.

She said the pursuit policy was updated last year and had been reviewed seven times since 1996, with each review making the policy safer.

"On each occasion police must strike a balance between the responsibility to protect life and the duty to enforce the law, however it is really up to the driver to take more responsibility and make better decisions," she said.

Police officers would never hesitate to abandon a pursuit which was putting people at risk, Supt Venables said.