Mildura Weekly : Friday July 17 Vol 9 No 36
06 NEWS MILDURA WEEKLY FRIDAY, JULY 17, 2015 By ALAN ERSKINE MALLEE police will join State- wide colleagues in a safer, smarter approach to potential high-speed pursuits, now in- structed to only chase motor- ists for crimes at the higher end of the scale. Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill, launching the new policy in Mildura on Wednesday, said it was all about saving lives and pre- venting serious injury, not just for members of the public, in- cluding the offender, but also for police officers. High-speed pursuits State- wide have been on an upward trend in recent years, from 900 in 2012, to 1740 last year. That included 35 pursuits in the Mallee, with speeds around 170-180kph not un- common in a range of speed zones. Most pursuits lasted less than 60 seconds. The statistics on fatalities and injuries have been worry- ing Victoria Police command for some time, with 13 people killed as a result of pursuits since 2010, including two killed and 28 injured last year alone. Police vehicles have been involved in 134 colli- sions as a result of pursuits. The new policy comes in the wake of recommenda- tions from a Coronial inquiry into Victoria Police pursuit- related road deaths, and came into effect on Monday. Assistant Commissioner Hill and other senior police are visiting regional Victorian centres to personally inform members from all depart- ments, including detectives, about the revised policy. Visits to metropolitan stations will follow. NSW police, often in- volved in cross-border pur- suits in the Mildura area, were involved in Wednesday morn- ing’s discussions, and it is an- ticipated the NSW policy will be closely aligned to Victoria’s as a result. Other States, including Queensland and Tasmania, already have tight restrictions on police pursuits. Assistant Commissioner Hill believes the new policy strikes a balance between protecting life and the need to arrest offenders, with most pursuits starting over issues at the lower end of the crime scale, including car theft and minor traffic offences, which up to now had accounted for 45 percent of pursuits. He said it was common that those being chased were affected by drugs or alcohol, increasing the risk of a life- threatening crash involving the offender, the public or police. Many of the offenders were simply ‘baiting’ police, inviting a pursuit. “Police pursuing them only exacerbates their behav- iour,” he said. “They drive at high speeds, they travel and drive more erratically...it’s just creating more risks on our roads, and that’s what we’re trying to eliminate.” Police pursuits in Victoria will now only happen if po- lice members consider there is serious risk to public health and safety, or if a criminal of- fence has been committed that involves serious injury to a person. “There are other ways and means to hold someone to account for traffic offences,” Assistant Commissioner Hill said. “Often police are in a position to get the registration of an offending vehicle, and that’s enough. “We had a recent case where one unit got the reg- istration, called off a chase, phoned a secondary unit with the details, and police were waiting at that person’s home when he returned. A number of charges were laid as a re- sult.” Assistant Commissioner Hill said police would not rule out alternative methods of stopping a vehicle and ap- prehending the occupant. This included the use of road spikes. He said the safer, smarter policy on police pursuits would not mean that of- fenders would get away with crimes, but rather that police would use other resources at their disposal for investiga- tions, and possible arrests at a later date. And it’s not just the driv- ers of the vehicles who will be prosecuted. The registered owner of the vehicle, family- related or not, will also be held accountable, with poten- tial penalties including im- pounding or forfeiture of the vehicle, heavy fines, and in the more serious cases, a jail term. Too many chases, too many fatalities and injuries, increased risk to the safety of Victoria Police, motorists and the public leads to a... 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Friday July 10 2015 Vol 9 No 35
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