New laws bring an end to police pursuits as we knew them

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SHANE Rattenbury says new road safety laws passed today support reforms to police pursuit policy in the ACT and will help reduce the number of police pursuits on ACT roads.

“This is a significant milestone for road safety in the ACT. The laws passed today support a new, limited Police pursuit policy. This will deliver significant road safety benefits for all road users in Canberra,” Shane said.

“Police will no longer pursue drivers unless it is necessary to prevent a serious risk to public health or safety, or an offence has been committed, or is about to be committed, which involves serious injury to or death of a person.”

“The Road Safety Transport Legislation Amendment Bill 2016 reflects the Government’s and ACT Policing’s commitment to harm minimisation and the Vision Zero road safety philosophy, which aims to achieve zero deaths on ACT roads.

“In the ACT since 2004 there have been nine people killed in crashes related to police pursuits. Nationally, between 2000 and 2011, there has been an average of 15 crashes and 8 deaths each year related to police pursuits, with 218 deaths in total.

“It is particularly distressing that 82 out of these 218 deaths were innocent parties, either occupants in other cars or bystanders or other road users.

“There are inherent risks associated with conducting police pursuits, risks to the community and other road users, the occupants of pursued vehicles and to police officers,” said Mr Rattenbury.

The Bill includes amendments to support ACT Police to implement the new policy. Drivers who commit the new offence of ‘failing to stop for police’ will be subject to a maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment and up to $15,000 in fines, increasing to 3 years imprisonment and up to $45,000 for repeat offenders. Drivers can also have their license suspended and vehicle seized.

“These penalties reflect the fact that deliberately evading police is a serious offence,” Mr Rattenbury said.

“The legislation will also ensure the registered owner of a vehicle which was used to commit the offence will face serious penalties if they do not provide information to police about who was driving the vehicle when the offence was allegedly committed.

“The laws passed today will give ACT Police powers they need to use alternate avenues of identifying, apprehending and prosecuting offending drivers. The overall result is improved safety for the ACT community,” concluded Mr Rattenbury.

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