Response to IPCA report on fleeing driver incident

Press Release – New Zealand Police

Response to IPCA report on Auckland motorway fleeing driver incident

Police acknowledge the findings of the Independent Police Conduct Authority report into a fleeing driver incident on the North Western Motorway on 23 October 2017 in which two passengers in the fleeing vehicle died.

The incident occurred in the early hours of the morning when officers were conducting speed checks near Great North Road. A Volkswagen Golf was observed travelling at 133 kph in an 80kph speed limit.

The Golf was followed and then a pursuit initiated which lasted 1 minute and 16 seconds. The Golf crashed near the St Luke’s Road off-ramp, resulting in the deaths of two passengers.

The driver of the Golf was last week sentenced to three years imprisonment after facing two charges of reckless driving causing death and two charges of reckless driving causing injury.

Assistant Commissioner (Response and Operations) Tusha Penny says Police accepts the IPCA finding about the speed reached by the police officer involved.

“This was an absolute tragedy which could have been avoided had the fleeing driver chosen to stop when signalled by Police,” says Ms Penny.

“It is important to note that the IPCA finds the pursuit was justified, and that the officer complied with the Urgent Duty Driving policy. The IPCA also makes no finding regarding the pursuit and the cause of the crash.

“However we accept that the officer’s speed was not justified, was excessive, and the pursuit should have been abandoned.”

The IPCA also finds that a criminal investigation should have been initiated into the officer’s driving.

“I would like to be very clear that police did consider this matter from a criminal perspective.
A senior investigator was involved and a detailed legal opinion sought regarding the actions of police that night,” says Ms Penny.
“Police also appealed for further information from the public, witnesses were interviewed, extensive CCTV footage examined and a further review conducted at the conclusion of this process.

“We rightly hold ourselves to a high standard and we will not hesitate to hold our staff to account under the law like any other member of the public.

“The Solicitor General’s prosecution guidelines were applied, as they are for any prosecution decision by police.

“On this occasion police determined that that the evidential test was not met for a charge of either dangerous or reckless driving as the evidence was not sufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction in court.

“Nevertheless we know we could have done better and we acknowledge the IPCA’s comments regarding the categorisation of this incident and the timing of the legal opinion.
We are currently in the process of implementing a new approach which will centralise this decision making and help ensure a consistent approach in the future.
“We will also be seeking an independent review from Crown Law of our legal opinion to assist us in identifying any further learnings regarding the legal issues involved.
However the statute of limitations means a retrospective prosecution is not an option.
“There is no doubt that police could and should have done things differently that night and in the subsequent process, just as the fleeing driver involved should have made a different choice.

“Our people never want to have an outcome like this, and we must continually learn as we work to keep our communities safe.”


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