Police hit brakes on car chases
VICTORIA Police have pulled the handbrake on police pursuits, telling officers they can only chase people involved in serious crimes.
Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill says the new policy strikes the right balance between protecting life and the need to arrest offenders.
Police can now initiate a pursuit only to prevent serious risk to public health and safety or if a criminal offence has been committed that involves serious injury to a person.
The change was recommended in a 2014 coroner’s report and follows a spate of related road deaths.
“Since 2010, we’ve had 13 people killed on our roads as a consequence of a police pursuit,” Mr Hill said yesterday.
“Last year alone we had two people killed and 28 people injured as a consequence of a police pursuit.”
He said it was clear police needed to rethink how to deal with fleeing drivers.
Under the new policy, police cannot chase cars over property- related or minor traffic offences. Mr Hill said these crimes were the most common trigger for a police pursuit.
It was also common that those being chased were affected by drugs or alcohol, further increasing the risk of a lifethreatening crash.