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17 'undesirable' police actions in pursuit - IPCA

Monday 4 Feb 2013 12:43 p.m.

Auckland police chasing a speeding motorcyclist broke a number of rules before the motorcyclist crashed and suffered serious brain injuries, an inquiry has found.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority's Judge Sir David Carruthers, in a report released today said the chase, which involved at least 11 police units as well as the police Eagle helicopter "lacked adequate command and control, and was plagued with communication issues and breaches of police policy".

In March, 2010, Raglan's Dion Batt, then 34, was fleeing from police on his Harley Davidson, exceeding 100km/h in 50km/h zones, when he crashed into a traffic island in west Auckland.

Blood tests showed methamphetamine in his blood, and although police found methamphetamine and a large amount of money on him, due to his severe brain injury he was not charged.

In his report, Judge Carruthers said there were 17 "undesirable" police actions after police initially abandoned their first chase because it was too dangerous.

Confusion followed when the police Eagle helicopter spotted Mr Batt's distinctive bike five minutes later.

At least 11 patrol units, controlled separately by the North Shore, Western and Metro dispatchers, then became involved.

Northern communications was unaware the helicopter had found Mr Batt, contributing to the confusion around the pursuit.

A chasing police officer on a motorcycle also could not hear his radio when riding at high speeds.

Junior officers set up an unauthorised road block, which Mr Batt rode through.

Police, in a statement, said they accepted the findings and were already working on the seven recommendations.

Assistant Commissioner Allan Boreham says police have since upgraded to digital radios, which are easier to operate, and hands-free kit in cars.

Fleeing motorists were always extremely testing for police, he said.

"They are fast-moving, unpredictable and high pressure situations that require quick judgments and the public expect us to get it right."

NZN

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