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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

In pursuit of NSW Police policy on pursuits.

On reading this report by Geesche Jacobsen in the Sydney Morning Herald, I was thinking the NSW Police might have had a point that some information about pursuit policy needed to be withheld under the new GIPA act on grounds that disclosure of eight of nine reasons for terminating a pursuit would compromise a ''lawful method and technique employed by the NSW Police Force … to detect and investigate contraventions of the criminal law.''

Until I googled the subject and found this New Zealand Police Review published two weeks ago Police Pursuits Policy [PDF 588KB] that includes an international literature review, and details of various risk assessment models used around the world, including in Australian states, to guide police decisions on continuation and termination of pursuits. There appear to be plenty of other published details of policy in Australia as well, including the ACT review in 2007 referred to in that article.

There is no hint of anything that needed to be censored in the New Zealand review report, and full details are included about best practice approaches (the SOWETO risk management model) taken in Australia, presumably in NSW, and the US, UK and other comparable countries.

The NSW Police GIPA decision to refuse access to parts of the policy seems unnecessarily cautious and overly defensive in the circumstances.


  1. Anonymous4:29 am

    Old article I know, however you ask why the document is witheld is actually detailed quite neatly within the NZ Police review linked in your article.

    "Offenders come to know they can take
    excessive risks with little consequences. Prescriptive restrictions such as a maximum
    allowable speed or automatic abandonment for certain driving manoeuvres mean that
    once offenders know what the threshold is, they will take those risks every time to
    ensure the pursuit is abandoned. This risks the safety of other road users...and is contrary to the essence of policing."

    How do offenders come to know? Through publicly available documents. Just like any good secret, the less people you tell, the less likely it is to get out.

    As for worrying about lack of accountability through transparency the Coroner and Ombudsman and various other agencies have had access to the policy when it was required. If you're still worried about individual Police, Police management, the Ombudsman the Coroner and all their solicitors being engaged in co-operative coverups then it's probably time to put on a tinfoil hat.

    If you don't think there are legitimate reasons for keeping some information secret then you should make sure write your PIN on your credit card.

  2. Anonymous9:27 pm

    I'm just curious as to who polices the police if the general public has no idea about what limits are aloud to take, The cops cover each others behinds a lot, not saying always but I personal have my doubts that if a police person did break protocol who is going to know