When it’s a flee.
Or rather, a chase is not a chase, neither may it be called a pursuit.
In New Zealand its been re-branded “fleeing.”
Leaving aside the obvious grammatical difficulties this will cause, its little more than a game of semantics when the outcomes of a police pursuit policy twenty years out of date are the same – 16 people dead after 11 police chases so far this year.
Police have been told to stop using the words “pursuit” or “chase” and instead refer to “fleeing drivers” in media communications.
The change in terminology was a recommendation from a review this year of police pursuit policy and intended to clearly convey who was responsible for the chases.
Southern police district road policing manager Inspector Andrew Burns said the change was a national policy introduced about six weeks ago, the Otago Daily Times reported.
Debate over the police policy has escalated this year with 16 people dead after 11 police chases, the worst toll on record.
The previous highest annual total was six deaths, in 2008.
The review found there was not enough evidence to support banning police chases but instead recommended more training for staff, limiting the number of vehicles involved and abandoning pursuits once an offender’s identity was known. (NZPA report)
In September this appeared in the Herald
“An international expert in police pursuits says New Zealand’s policy which enables high-speed chases for minor offences is 20 years out of date. A police review of pursuit policy this year – the fourth in six years – ignored key recommendations of the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) and made only minor changes.”
“Road safety campaigner, the Candor Trust, says police pursuits have increased five-fold in the past seven years to 2500 last year.” read the full report in the NZ Herald
Update 5 December 2010
A least one news outlet has decided to ignore the instruction and ‘call a spade a spade.’
The NZPA article “Fatal crash after police pursuit in Auckland”
One man is dead and another in critical condition after a car crashed following a high speed police chase in south Auckland last night.
The crash happened at about 11.20pm on Kirkbride Road in the suburb of Mangere after a high speed chase reaching speeds of “well over 100kmh”, a police spokesman said.
The car crashed approximately 30 seconds after a police car began chasing the allegedly speeding vehicle, the spokesman said…” read the full report here
The driver died and the passenger was seriously injured in the chase. This brings the number of deaths in police pursuits in New Zealand to 17 so far this year.
The NZPA report also mentioned that on Friday police were cleared of blame over two separate pursuits that resulted in the deaths of three people earlier this year and that
The Independent Police Conduct Authority found no aspect of police officers’ conduct could be faulted over the deaths of Steven John Gorrie and in Dome Valley, near Warkworth, north of Auckland, on April 4 and Ricky Allan Forbes near Murchison, 130km southwest of Nelson, on February 21.
For more about police and crime read our Crime facts and stats page, all links open in a new window.
For more about media restrictions on the reporting of crime see our Hype, Spin and Restrictions on Freedom of Information page and our blog
See also – Teen arrested for fleeing police