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

There are too many pursuits done by young male police officers chasing young male drivers, an advocate says.

Barrister Deborah Manning represents families who've lost loved ones during police pursuits and she told TVNZ1’s Breakfast, ahead of today's IPCA report release into the issue, she thinks attitudes need to change.

“Look at the age and gender of the chasers, we’ve got young male police officers chasing young males. I think it is the thrill of the chase.”

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.

This year four people have been killed in police pursuits and since 2008 there have been more than 30,000 pursuits, hundreds of crashes and dozens of deaths.

Ms Manning says she thinks police are responsible for unnecessary deaths in New Zealand.

“Police have consistently ignored reports and recommendations.”

She says sometimes drivers are being chased on minor or non-arrestable offences.

“The New Zealand police are refusing to follow recommendations made by the coroner, made by the independent police conduct authority, they want to be able to chase for the smallest incident, rather than just chasing for serious crimes or imminent danger to the public.

“80 per cent of these offences are for traffic offences or non-arrestable offences... and our young people are ending up dead.”

Ms Manning says police are breaching their own policy,

“When a police pursuit is commenced the police are supposed to phone it into comms and the comm centre are supposed to be in charge of the pursuit.”

She says sometimes they don’t and when there’s two sets of people who are not thinking clearly the situation becomes dangerous.

“On the one hand you’ve got the police that are supposed to be trained professionals following their policies, which they’re frequently not, and then you’ve got young people and we know their brains haven’t fully developed.”

She believes there are safer options.

“For example using the police eagle, the helicopter, to try and follow a car safely, there’s road spiking, there’s other ways of doing it.”

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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