If you live and drive in Victoria, you should be fuming.
Not only does Victoria have the most draconian, nanny state driving rules and speed limit enforcement for general punters like you and I — the government has now made it even easier for crooks and scumbags to evade police.
Following a review conducted by Coroner John Olle in July 2014, Victoria Police has made changes to its chase policy, banning almost all police pursuits.
The changes to its pursuit policy ban all police chases unless there is a serious risk to public health and safety, a criminal offence has been committed that involves serious injury or unless the overall harm they are seeking to prevent is greater than the risks involved in conducting the pursuit.
Here is the most shocking statistic from the review — in 90 per cent of driver fatalities where a police pursuit was initiated due to a minor offence, the offending driver was under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both.
The new policy now allows this group of drugged up or drunk criminals to continue evading police while under the influence and there is absolutely nothing you or I can do about it. This is surely the most ridiculous policy ever created.
A criminal that knows that police won’t chase them is the most dangerous type of driver on the road. It gives people willing enough to evade police a green light to step on the accelerator and keep going, knowing that police will pull back and let them flee.
This change in policy comes on the back of 13 people being killed and 28 injured in police pursuits over the past five years.
“This is a smart policy, this is a safe policy,” said assistant commissioner of the Victoria Police, Robert Hills.
“[Under] the old pursuit policy you could effectively pursue anyone or anything in terms of offending. This is about our members being provided with a framework they can work within.”
“There is very, very few [occasions] where a fleeing driver stops after he’s made a conscious decision to flee police,” he said.
“Us pursuing them only exacerbates their behaviours. They drive at high speeds, they travel and drive more erratically, it’s just creating more risks on our roads. That’s what we’re trying to eliminate.”
“Fundamentally, the reason we’re engaging in pursuits are for minor traffic offences. People involved, the large majority… have been affected by alcohol or drugs or both.”
In theory, a criminal that has a car full of cocaine, ice, heroin or whatever is better off fleeing from police and ditching the drugs. This would allow them to only catch an evading police charge, as opposed to pulling over and being caught with the stash of drugs.
In a day and age where everyday drivers face record numbers of fixed speed cameras, covert mobile speed cameras and some of the lowest highway speed limits in the world, the court system and police are making it even easier for criminals to be better criminals.
Limiting average Joe’s involvement in police pursuits is a no brainer, but giving crooks open reign to our roads is not the answer. Not even close.
Alborz’s two cents
I couldn’t disagree more with Paul. Chasing a drug or alcohol affected driver is a sure way to get an innocent member of the public killed.
Why on earth would you want to chase a lunatic that has no intention of stopping until he or she crashes? I am sorry, but if you’ve gone through an RBT without stopping or if you’ve held up a 7-11 and are trying to make a run for it but now have the police in pursuit, you’re just not going to stop.
That means driving well outside normal conditions in a feeble attempt to get away and then crashing into some poor unsuspecting sod. Sure, the cops get the criminal but what about the innocent bystander? What did he do wrong expect be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I think Paul has watched too many American police chases where they’ll happily chase a maniac for a small offence halfway across the state, cause dozens of accidents and injuries in the process, just to prove a point and enforce a zero tolerance policy.
Americans also think arming teachers in schools is a good way of stopping school shootings.
Sometimes fighting fire with fire is a terrible idea. It’s easier to let the fire burn out, in this case, it’s easier and far safer to let the criminal get away with his small or even large offence and catch them at a later date rather than potentially cause a massive accident and destroy the lives of those who least deserve it.
To be fair, having found myself agreeing with a state police assistant commissioner about a traffic matter for the first time in history does gravely concern me.
What is your opinion on this policy change? If you don’t agree, what is the right answer?