Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stop or Not

When I initially read this report, I must admit I laughed and said "doh" on behalf of the Hampshire police officers who managed to take out three of their own cars whilst chasing a stolen car.

Now I've had a chance to think about it, it did make me think (again) about the whole police pursuit business. Three teenagers driving a seriously powerful car- a Bentley Continental- clearly having no intention of ever stopping for a roadside chat.

I think the news report would be quite different if one of the three died in the crash.

At what point does the risk of someone getting seriously injured, including the thieves themselves, override the need for them to be arrested?

This country will never follow the American example of trying to induce a "controlled" crash before they lose control (see the sidebar vids for examples) to terminate a pursuit. We only have stinger (ineffective against runflat tyres) and TPAC, or boxing in, and a number of forces don't even authorise that as its too much of a risk of someone getting injured, or too expensive to train officers, or they don't want the repair bills. A lot of forces will never authorise a pursuit of a motorbike, mainly because noone can think of a way to end it without the motorbike crashing, which obviously means the person riding it will be injured.

Its another of those which shoulder to listen to questions- pursue no matter what the risk to the person failing to stop, or stop as soon as its clear that it'll likely end in tears? I'm only thinking of the night time pursuits like the example here, where the person failing to stop is the one most at risk of injury. If someone is pursued into a town centre or through residential areas half an hour after school closing time, then the pursuit should be called off, period.

Personally, I'd like to see some of the American ideas brought in. If the suspect can be forced off the road in a reasonable safe manner as soon as possible, then I think we should before he or she gets the chance to really get the speed up and put other people at risk. All police cars should be equipped with stinger, but again to cut training and equipment costs, only traffic officers are trained. And seeing how we only usually have one traffic car on nights, for a vast swathe of Suburbiaville and its environs, it usually is never available. No pursuit I've ever been on has a traffic unit managed to get in front for a stinger deployment.