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Police pursuit policy in need of urgent review
June 2013
JustSpeak are calling for change of policy after rash of Police pursuit crashes

In the wake of a spate of police chases which have resulted in a needless loss of life, JustSpeak calls for the police pursuit policy to be revisited.
JustSpeak has serious concerns about the number of deaths and injuries that result from police pursuits, and does not believe that the costs and risks involved are justified.
"As an organisation of young people, JustSpeak is particularly distressed to note the young ages of many of the victims of these crashes. It is concerned about the relatively frequent use of police pursuits, particularly in light of the fact that most police pursuits are started over low-level traffic offending and few of them uncover evidence of serious crimes, as evident in IPCA statistics on police pursuits. In this regard, New Zealand Police Association vice-president Stuart Mills' labelling of pursued drivers as "criminals" is misleading, inflammatory and insensitive," says JustSpeak spokesperson Danielle Kelly.

JustSpeak believes that police should be exhausting all available alternatives before opting to pursue drivers, including noting the registration number of the offending vehicle and apprehending the driver at a later point. Any attempts to evade the police could be dealt with at the point of apprehension.

JustSpeak is urging the Police to revisit and tighten the rules around police pursuits and to limit their use to pursuing people known to be violent offenders only. These limits have been put in place in overseas jurisdictions such as Tasmania, Queensland and Florida with encouraging results. Reviews of the restrictions show a reduced number of deaths and injuries, and no correlation to increased crime levels. JustSpeak believes New Zealand's current pursuit policy has fallen behind international best practice, and should brought in line with it.

"Police pursuits are inherently dangerous for all parties involved. It is imperative that we re-evaluate and limit their use to avoid further tragedies," they say.

JustSpeak is a non-partisan network of young people speaking to, and speaking up for change in our criminal justice system.

JustSpeak was formed at the beginning of 2011 as the youth arm of Rethinking Crime and Punishment. The guiding ethos driving JustSpeak is that young people have much to offer to the national conversation on criminal justice. Among other things, young people bring an imaginative outlook, a feeling of urgency, and a sense of hope. We aim to cultivate an evidence and experience based public discourse around criminal justice issues.

JustSpeak holds regular public forums in Wellington and Auckland; submits on a range of legislation; and engages in public discourse on criminal justice. Since forming we have also been involved with consulting with stakeholders and communities on a range of criminal justice issues; published a report entitled Maori and the Criminal Justice System: A Youth Perspective; and held a camp with over 100 young people from across New Zealand, and more.

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