Queensland Police explain why they halted car chases

“Worldwide, more police and members of the public are killed ‘in police action’ due to car crashes than any other cause.”

This simple sentence explains why the Queensland police no longer chase drivers who have committed minor breaches of the law.

In an extraordinary document, issued by the Queensland police in 2012, the commissioner states:

“A recent study by Australian Institute of Criminology shows that more than half of all people killed in Australia in an interaction with police die as a result of police pursuits. And that is not just offenders. More than one third of those are the general public.”

“While I understand the frustration experienced by officers who see offenders flouting the road rules, the risks associated with pursuing them for minor traffic offences are simply too great.”

“Overwhelmingly, [those who] evade police … are young, inexperienced drivers who are either drunk, affected by drugs, or both. They have little regard for their own safety, and even less care for the safety of other road users…Nearly 90% of offenders who die in pursuit crashes are impaired”

“We have to be the cool, responsible head in these situations, and understand that by pursuing these people, we are dramatically increasing the risk to you [the public], to our officers, and to the offenders.”

“Our first priority is always to public safety, and it must always be that way. The good news is that we are getting better at catching these offenders. Increasingly; we are charging people after the event, through following up on investigations.”

Safety campaigner Clive Matthew-Wilson, who edits the car review website, dogandlemon.com, wants the New Zealand police to adopt a similar policy and abandon car chases, except in ‘extreme emergencies’.

“The New Zealand police are increasingly out of touch with the rest of the world when it comes to pursuits of minor offenders. The sorts of chases that frequently cause death or injury in this country would not be permitted in many parts of Australia.”

Matthew-Wilson points out that law enforcement agencies throughout the world, including the FBI, have also called for a halt to police pursuits for minor offences.

A 2010 FBI report says breaking off the pursuit of a fleeing vehicle doesn’t mean the offenders get away.

Multiple studies, quoted by the FBI, show that once suspects realise they're no longer being chased, they tend to slow down to normal driving speeds and therefore become far less of a risk.

Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams of the Tasmanian Police told Metro magazine that the Police; who initially opposed the ban on car chases; now strongly supported it.

Assistant Commissioner Adams said that while police could still pursue vehicles for serious crimes in progress, such as robbery or murder, “they’re very few and far between.”

Adams added that the ban has not impacted on enforcement of laws. People aren't drink-driving or nicking vehicles with impunity, she says, because they're still getting caught.