Under Section 51B of the Crimes Act, 1900 (NSW) the driver of a vehicle is guilty of an offence where the driver:-
- Knows, or ought reasonably to know or has reasonable grounds to suspect, that police are in pursuit of the vehicle and that the driver is required to stop the vehicle;
- Does not stop the vehicle; and
- Then drives the vehicle recklessly or at speed or in a manner dangerous to others.
A study conducted by the Australian Institute of Criminology found that police pursuits occur for a wide range of offences including, break and enter, motor vehicle theft, drug offences, drink driving and other traffic offences.
In NSW alone, data collected in 2013 reveals that 60% of all high speed police car pursuits were commenced as a result of traffic offences. A further 15% were due to failure to stop at an RBT, 15% were chasing a stolen vehicle and only a tiny minority, 11%, were to pursue a fleeing criminal from a crime scene.
The Greens Party has recently called for an end to police pursuits in NSW for minor traffic offences following the release of figures that show that in the past 2 years, 8 people have died as a result of NSW police pursuits and 78 people have been injured, 14 of whom were innocent bystanders.
NSW Greens MP, David Shoebridge, claims that “NSW police are hitting high speeds of up to 187km/h chasing offenders and this kind of dangerous pursuit should be limited to chasing more serious criminals”.
However, NSW Police Association organiser, Mick Hilder, has said that “only Police Officers with silver or gold police driving permits – officers who have undergone a week-long driver training course – can initiate such chases and they have to contact the police communications centre immediately once they start a chase”. He suggests that police pursuits in NSW follow rather than push a fleeing vehicle, with most pursuits in NSW lasting less than two minutes.
Mr Hilder believes that putting an end to police pursuits may only encourage some drivers to think they can travel at high speeds with impunity.
Contact Brazel Moore Lawyers on (02) 4324 7699to learn more about your legal rights following your arrest by Police or for assistance with any criminal law matters.