Review of pursuits, April 2004 - May 2007

Review of pursuits, April 2004 - May 2007

Executive Summary

New Zealand Police have recently undertaken a review of pursuits in order to scrutinise existing practices and identify areas for further attention and improvement. The review is based on information recorded through the NZ Police Lotus Notes system. The Lotus Notes pursuit database was introduced in March/April 2004, prior to which time a more limited amount of information was collected through the older LES/Wanganui system.

The current analysis is based on a census of all recorded pursuits between 1 April 2004-30 April 2007 (inclusive). Therefore, all findings relates to the period April 2004-May 2007. April 2004 represents the first full month of Lotus Notes pursuit data, while April 2007 was the last full month of statistics available at the time of data collection.

Summary of findings

National Trends

Nationally there were over 6000 reported pursuits during the period April 2004-May 2007. Monthly totals range between 103 and 223, with an average of 162 pursuits per month. Across the three year review the number of pursuits that are being recorded has increased by 86.5 percent. Organisational efforts to improve recording practices are likely to have played a significant role in this increase.

District Trends

District breakdowns are not comparable due to the differing nature of those districts. However, the highest number of reported pursuits occurred in Counties Manukau and Waitemata (respectively 801 cases/13.3 percent and 768 cases/12.8 percent). These were followed by Wellington (645/10.7), Central (596/9.5), Auckland City (574/9.6), Canterbury (571/9.5), Bay of Plenty (570/9.5), and Waikato (484/8.1). The remaining districts (Eastern, Northland, Southern, and Tasman) each accounted for 5 percent or fewer of recorded pursuits.

Reason for Stopping

The following information relates to the reason for attempting to stop the pedestrian vehicle prior to a pursuit taking place. The majority of offences for which individuals were initially signalled to stop by police were of a serious nature. The most frequently cited reasons were: speeding (30.2 percent), suspected/known criminal offending (17.4 percent), dangerous/careless driving (14.7 percent) and suspected drink-driving or an attempt to avoid an alcohol checkpoint (8.5 percent). Other categories of numerical note included 'suspicious vehicle/behaviour' (6.9 percent), 'fault on vehicle' (6.8 percent), 'routine traffic stop' (5.8 percent), and 'road rules infringement' (5.3 percent).


The duration of recorded pursuits ranged from a few seconds through to more than 2? hours. The majority were relatively short: 7.9 percent were under 1 minute, 23.7 percent were under 2 minutes, and 62.2 percent (3736 cases) were under 5 minutes in duration. The largest single category was 2-5 minutes, incorporating 38.5 percent of cases (2313 pursuits). Only 1.1 percent were reported to be over 45 minutes.

Time of Day

The largest single time category for pursuits was the 22:00- 02:00 period (31.3 percent of pursuits/1882 cases). The lowest number occurred between 06:00-10:00 (6.4 percent or 384 cases), followed by 10:00-14:00 (12 percent or 718 cases).

Maximum Speed

Maximum pursuit speeds spanned a wide range, from 15 to 230 km/hr; however, fewer than 2 percent were under 50km/hr, while less than 1 percent were over 200km/hr. In 51.9 percent of cases maximum speeds were between 75 and 125km/hr, and in a further 34.4 percent they were reported to have been between 125 and 175 km/hr. The largest single category was 100-124km/hr with 29.9 percent of all cases, followed by 75-99km/hr with 22 percent.

Vehicle Blocks

Vehicle blocks were used as a pursuit tactic in 5.2 percent of pursuits. Where used they have generally been successful (that is, in 76 percent of deployments).


Tyre deflation devices (TDDs) were used as a pursuit tactic in almost 5 percent of pursuits. Where deployed they have been successful in 56.3 percent of cases.


Between April 2004-May 2007 rates of abandonment have remained between 20 and 35 percent of all pursuits (and have been slowly declining).

Police Vehicle Crashes

Crash data includes a variety of damage, from serious to very minor. The proportion of police vehicle pursuit crashes is extremely small, constituting 3.9 percent of recorded pursuits (237 incidents) between April 2004 and May 2007.

Offender Crashes

As a proportion of all pursuits, the offender vehicle crash rate has remained stable. Between April 2004 and May 2007, the monthly trend in offender vehicle crashes has fluctuated within a 15 percent band (between 17 and 32 percent of all pursuits). In April 2007 it was marginally lower than in April 2004 (25 and 29 percent respectively).

Injuries & Fatalities

The following information relates to recorded serious injuries and fatalities. In 99 percent of cases there was no serious injury or fatality associated with the outcome of the pursuit. In the 63 cases where crashes occurred, 106 people in offending vehicles were reported to have been seriously injured. Fatalities to those in offender vehicles accounted for 0.2 percent of all pursuit outcomes (10 crashes in which 12 people in offender vehicles were killed). There were no police officer fatalities from pursuits and only one reported injury crash, involving 3 police officers. Similarly, no other road users or pedestrians were killed during these pursuits, although 14 people not involved in the event were reported as seriously injured.


Apprehension rates have remained steady over the April 2004-May 2007 period, fluctuating within a 19 percent band (between 60 and 79 percent). Most recently, between January and May 2007 there has been a decline in apprehension rates each month, from 77 to 63 percent (although these rates remain within the band described above).

Driver Age

Driver age was unknown in 29.4 percent of cases (for instance, where the driver was not apprehended and the vehicle was stolen). Based on cases where age was known, the ages of those involved in pursuits ranged between 12 and 95. 71.4 percent of offenders involved in pursuits (where age was known) were under 30 years of age. Only 2.9 percent of events involved people over 50. Worryingly, 107 recorded pursuits involved offenders below the age of 15.

Vehicle Details

The majority of vehicles involved in pursuits were cars (78.8 percent), followed by motorcycles (10.9 percent). 23.3 percent of pursued vehicles were recorded as having been stolen.