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Weekend reflections

March 20th, 2010

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. Civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

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  1. wilful
    March 20th, 2010 at 22:47 | #1

    I’d be quite keen on some independent economic commentary on this proposal: Low Carbon Growth Plan, by ClimateWorks. From the summary:

    “Australia can reduce its GHG emissions to 25% below 2000 levels by 2020 at an average annual cost to society of A$185 per household (or 0.1% of the projected GD P
    per household in 2020) using technologies that are available today.

    What do these guys know that Treasury don’t?

  2. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 20th, 2010 at 23:29 | #2

    It seems that a very high profile Australian firearm user has stuffed up and could face seven years prison time.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/nation/victorian-police-chief-simon-overland-carried-live-bullets-on-to-plane/story-e6frg6nf-1225843034754

  3. BilB
    March 21st, 2010 at 00:20 | #3

    Probably, Wilful, these people went out and talked with business and the community, and read bloggers comments to obtain fresh ideas, rather than just talk amoungst themselves in the smoko room as I imagine treasury does.

  4. March 21st, 2010 at 00:52 | #4

    Terje,

    He is the police chief. You totalitarian’s should be careful or you’ll end up being anarchists.

    Oddbods!

  5. Tristan Ewins
    March 21st, 2010 at 11:14 | #5

    ‘When the Labor Party Dreams – Class, Politics and Policy in NSW 1930-32’,

    A review by Geoff Drechsler of a book by Geoff Robinson – published at ‘Left Focus’

    “It seems so unfamiliar for Australia. The means: strikes, rallies, angry public meetings. The end: imagined utopias of plenty.” “Geoff Robinson’s “When the Labor Party Dreams – Class, Politics and Policy in NSW 1930-32” by Australian Scholarly Publishing is an excellent account of the period of the last Lang government: a period of Australian history that has attracted many attempts at examination and consideration, be they in print or documentary or drama.”

    see: http://leftfocus.blogspot.com/2010/03/when-labor-party-dreams-class-politics.html

  6. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 21st, 2010 at 11:30 | #6

    Megan – is the police chief above the law?

  7. Salient Green
    March 21st, 2010 at 15:21 | #7

    Wilful @ 1, here are two more links on Climate Works with much more detail.
    http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/25-emissions-cut-at-4-a-week-possible-20100315-q9nb.html
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/climateworks-report-to-reignite-debate-over-policy/story-e6frg6xf-1225841108207

    29% of the cuts are efficiency improvements which would actually save money.
    36% cuts at moderate cost by measures including tree planting.
    35% cuts costing between $30 and $100 per tonne.

    This is nothing new by the way. The Greens have been proposing this for years.

  8. pablo
    March 21st, 2010 at 16:10 | #8

    Simon Overland’s indiscretions and the dreadful car chase results for the NSW Police in the ACT make it a searching week for the civilian forces v the public.

  9. Fran Barlow
    March 21st, 2010 at 16:40 | #9

    @pablo

    For the record, it was the NSW police …

    I’ve written on the whole police chase thing on this blog before, but again, it does seem to be another case of dreadful risk trading by the police. Four dead and what did they achieve?

    They killed a suspected car thief and injured his accomplice. Well that was worth killing a family for. I know the relatives will be thinking of the bigger picture at the funerals. Sure they are dead, but we nailed that car thief. He learned his lesson before he died!

    I suspect the police HP simply attracts people wanting to hoon about in cars with impunity.

  10. pablo
    March 21st, 2010 at 16:59 | #10

    Yes Fran, and not just the relatives thinking of the bigger picture’ I feel.
    And I am not that critical of the NSW Police spokesman’s response about being comfortable that proper procedure had been followed by the pursuers. The chase had apparently been suspended. NSW legislation making it an offence to not stop when demanded by police is not yet complete. A problem of offenders not necessarily knowing they are being pursued is said to be the reason.
    This was a stolen car. Surely we have the technology for more sophisticated owner recognition to disable cars and car thieves.
    If that is not the case then a blanket cessation to car chases has to be considered. It may be the only way to break the nexus you suggest between police HP and hoons.

  11. Salient Green
    March 21st, 2010 at 17:26 | #11

    “They killed a suspected car thief and injured his accomplice”

    Fran, that is simply not true. Please don’t descend to that sort of commentry. The driver broke the law. He alone killed himself, injured his accomplice and caused the death of an innocent family. If you need to attach blame to something apart from the driver to make sense of this disaster, blame the laws of the land.

    To blame the police who are real people already suffering trauma is cruel and misplaced.

  12. Fran Barlow
    March 21st, 2010 at 18:01 | #12

    @Salient Green

    Fran, that is simply not true.

    Of course it is true. They must have known that the death or injury of one or more persons was a plausible consequence of their conduct. The reason we have road rules prohibiting certain types of driving practice derives precisely from this reality. They could have had no knowledge of the driver’s state of mind or his fitness to control a vehicle with which he was unfamiliar at high speed under the pressure of a police pursuit. They were entitled to assume that he would have been desperate to evade them and would have been making choices predisposed by adrenaline release. They might have considered that the sort of people who steal cars like most petty criminals tend to be of average or below average intelligence and tend to find self-esteem in acts of bravado with, inter alia, cars.

    It was the police who were the architects of this result. They are charged with protecting the public. That is their first duty and it takes priority over protecting the interests of insurance companies or the uninsured or punishing offenders. If their decision-making fails this first test it fails absolutely and the resultant deaths and injuries are their responsibility. I’d be having them on charges of manslaughter, or at the very least negligent homicide.

    With this in mind, the police ought to consider very carefully whether a police pursuit is worth the risk. If one is not certain dealing with a very serious violent offender who is a high risk of carrying out violent crimes prior to being apprehended, one might well adopt a more passive approach. If the person fails to stop, remain at a distance. Call in a chopper. Organise unmarked vehicle surveillance. Close off road exits with spike mats ahead if possible. Accept that they may escape but will probably dump the vehicle, which you can forensically examine. In many cases the offenders are going to be known to police and you will get them.

    To blame the police who are real people already suffering trauma is cruel and misplaced

    It is entirely apt. I have no sympathy whatever for these reckless hoons in uniform. I doubt they gave it a passiung thought beyond the professional embarrassment involved. The offenders are the same of course, but they are not officials of the state. I expect a higher standard of judgement from public officers than from semi-educated morons.

  13. Salient Green
    March 21st, 2010 at 19:03 | #13

    The police were doing their job Fran. They were traumatised by the consequences, it’s irrational and callous to suggest they weren’t.

    To suggest that the officers designed such a bloodbath and deliberately guided the participants to completion is even worse and also irrational.

    I think all of your suggestions have merit but I also think it was reasonable for police to pursue what they could assume was a person who had some regard for his own life and the life of the female passenger. When it became apparent that the person was an extremely dangerous person by running a red light, the chase was called off but the feral, lowlife, sociopathic lawbreaker continued on to kill himself and an innocent family.

    Anyway, it’s clear that governments need to throw a lot more money at this problem, such as tagging devices and more airborne surveilance such as drones. Surely they are a lot quicker to get off the ground than manned aircraft.

  14. Ernestine Gross
    March 21st, 2010 at 19:07 | #14

    @wilful

    Without reading their entire report (ca 160 pages) one can only speculate. I’ve asked for a copy of their full report. In general, for most problems there is more than one way to solve it. Having a portfolio of renewable energy sources, as promoted by BilB, is one approach on the supply side. The tricky bit of ghg emissions is that it is global.

  15. Fran Barlow
    March 21st, 2010 at 22:02 | #15

    @Salient Green

    They were traumatised by the consequences, it’s irrational and callous to suggest they weren’t.

    Au contraire, if they had been inclined to be troubled by it, they’d have been troubled by all the previous occasions when police chases ended badly, and determined to avoid getting into one in all but the most compelling of circumstances, rather than being another of the long line of police causing the deaths of innocent civilians.

    My attitude is scrupulously rational. Whatever interest I have in their sentiments is purely instrumental. I’m always curious how bad stuff happens and what can be done about it.

    These cops should face charges. They showed nothing like the discretion needed.

    As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog though, I’m very much in favour of DriverID, and remote control of vehicles by the authorities.

  16. Freelander
    March 21st, 2010 at 22:10 | #16

    @Fran Barlow

    They had fun. That’s why the police and dogs chase cars. Fun. There are consequences though. By the way, the police had stopped pursuing the car ‘just’ before the accident so it was absolutely nothing to do with them at all. Interesting how they always, just, manage to cut short their pursuit, just, before the crash. Excellent timing. They didn’t get a chance to use their tazers though. Using tazers is fun too. So is drving around in cars rather than walking a beat. Walking a beat is probably effective in areas like the CBD, but ain’t no fun.

  17. Fran Barlow
    March 21st, 2010 at 23:17 | #17

    @Freelander

    Now you’re getting the idea. Let’s face it — the kind of people who join the HP are people who like to get brownie points for doing crazy stuff in powerful cars. For them it’s like those action movies we all enjoy — sadly, the consequences are worse for passersby.

  18. boconnor
    March 22nd, 2010 at 07:19 | #18

    Fran Barlow :
    @Salient Green

    They were traumatised by the consequences, it’s irrational and callous to suggest they weren’t.

    Au contraire, if they had been inclined to be troubled by it, they’d have been troubled by all the previous occasions when police chases ended badly, and determined to avoid getting into one in all but the most compelling of circumstances, rather than being another of the long line of police causing the deaths of innocent civilians.

    Indeed. And I think your analysis of this issue is spot on.

    Fran Barlow :
    @Freelander
    Now you’re getting the idea. Let’s face it — the kind of people who join the HP are people who like to get brownie points for doing crazy stuff in powerful cars. For them it’s like those action movies we all enjoy — sadly, the consequences are worse for passersby.

    Disagree. Like any large organisation there will be red necks. But the majority of police are there to make a positive difference in the community and thats why they joined.

    Also, as I recall, in NSW the decision to pursue is taken by senior police (in the command centre?) not by the officers on the ground. So again its bad decision making by the leaders, not the troops.

    Finally, looks like the NSW Libs are again keen to show that they are right behind the boys in blue, independent of any discussion or pause for thought about police pursuits. Its depressing what the alternative government looks like.

  19. Salient Green
    March 22nd, 2010 at 08:07 | #19

    Fran, I can’t imagine what has made you so bitter that you can’t accept that the two young police officers were traumatised. Even an older, hard bitten police officer would be.

    The person who killed himself and the innocent family, the person who caused it, broke how many laws? Stolen car, unlicensed, failing to stop, speeding, driving dangerously and for sure there would have been others. All these were his choices alone. He sped off from the traffic stop where he could have killed a pedestrian before the pursuit. By your ‘scrupulous rationale’ the police would have caused the pedestrian’s death by having a traffic stop! If Justin Williams had been jailed for his previous offence he couldn’t have caused these deaths. I suppose by your rationale the courts caused the deaths as well, and lets add in the car company for making fast cars, and the pollies for not making tougher laws. Lets blame his parents for something, and his girlfriend, and the poor bloody family for being his way. Anyone and anything but don’t blame Justin Williams’ sh*t choices.

    The vast majority know there is a need for police to pursue criminals in cars. It would be plain silly to invite all the crims to run by banning the car chase. One day there will be widespread technology to make them unnecessary but for now it is important for law and order that they continue to be an option, done under strict protocols, while rolling out alternatives.

  20. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:01 | #20

    @boconnor

    Tellingly, this 2007 report tends to support my claims.

    Pages 10-14 especially make interesting reading but I would draw your attention to this claim which was pretty much mine above, though I hadn’t read it at the time:

    If you accept the fundamental premise that the primary responsibility of police is to protect human life … then it follows on a policy basis that it would be a violation of these principles for the police to escalate any non-life-threatening incident into a life-threatening incident.

    Right after that they also make the point in risk assessment that I made above.

    3.7 McGrath (1991, p.39) suggested that all officers who may engage in pursuits be issued with a note as to whom they may be pursuing, as follows:
    “Who are you chasing? The person you are chasing is very likely to be: 1) Young, inexperienced driver. 2) A driver with a terrible driving record to whom red lights mean nothing. 3) A driver who is intoxicated. 4) A driver who simply does not care about you or other road users. HE IS WORTH STOPPING BUT HE IS NOT WORTH DYING FOR!”
    This is consistent with the internal AFP review finding that the offender (perhaps it would be better to say, the other driver) is likely to be young, male, recidivist, unemployed, affected by alcohol, and possibly unlicensed. But the direct, no nonsense language quoted above, with the one line conclusion, is likely to be remembered and make a real impact on officers.

    I understand that in SA an examination of the feasibility of a laser-based GPS tagging system for fleeing vehicles is being investigated. Not before time either.

    As the old saying goes, when you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Let’s change the culture away from pursuit vehicles and in favour of more modest vehicles — ideally with minimal marking, and with DriverID to start vehicles, in car breath analysis, GPS tracking, police control over ignition etc …

    An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  21. Chris Warren
    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:13 | #21

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    Terje

    Under capitalists (Bjelke, Askin, Fraser) police are above the law.

    Under anarchy – they are the law.

  22. boconnor
    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:21 | #22

    Fran Barlow :
    @boconnor
    Tellingly, this 2007 report tends to support my claims. Pages 10-14 especially make interesting reading but I would draw your attention to this claim which was pretty much mine above, though I hadn’t read it at the time:

    No need to draw my attention to it, I’m on your side and agree with your position on this issue, except the notion that many (most?) police officers “like to get brownie points for doing crazy stuff in powerful cars”.

    Poor decision making by senior officers is the culprit, not the actions of junior officers (assuming as I said that senior people make the pursue/not pursue decision).

  23. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:33 | #23

    @boconnor

    My apologies then … whom you were agreeing with was somewhat unclear to me.

  24. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:37 | #24

    Chris Warren :
    @TerjeP (say tay-a)
    Terje
    Under capitalists (Bjelke, Askin, Fraser) police are above the law.
    Under anarchy – they are the law.

    So in the context of what the police chief did what is the situation at present?

  25. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 22nd, 2010 at 10:53 | #25

    Some time ago on this blog I refered to rolling blackouts due to shortages in generating capacity for a given amount of demand as a brownout. SJ took me to task on the use of this term and insisted that a brownout is a voltage sag problem not a power problem. I don’t disagree with SJs point but words often suffer polysemy and I think the term brownout is a case in point. The following article being an instance of the term brownout being used to describe rationing through rolling blackouts.

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/national/bn-needed-to-keep-power-on-government-warns/story-e6frf7l6-1225843534014

    On the demand side of the electricity equation I think there ought to be more scope for consumers to select and pay for the availability level that they require and for network operators to more selectively ration power at times of high demand by selectively switching of supply to those that are paying for a lower availability. So if you want wind power and you are willin to suffer low availability (ie willing to be turned off if the wind don’t blow) there ought to be a package that provides this option. And if you want a highly reliable source then you ought to be paying more for availability (but perhaps the same or less for energy). Of course all this relies on a smarter grid where consumers can be more selectively cut off for short periods.

  26. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 11:11 | #26

    @TerjeP (say tay-a)

    In principle, I agree. Assuming it could be technically and operationally feasible to do so, those who were happy to bear the conseqiences of intermittency or pay the premium to avoid it ought to be given the option.

    Perhaps I don’t care about losing power between certain hours of the day? Perhaps you could program your meter to take the cheapest grid power available only after having been without power in your house for at least 1 hour or any two hours between 2am and 6am? A person who had solar PV and hot water might decide that he or she didn’t need any power from the grid at all between 7am and 5pm and was happy to have his or her fridge powered by the PV if no wind or other renewable was available.

    I’m not sure of the technical feasibility of such a solution, or given the bother people have programming their videos to record, how many could exercise these options, and whether there would be enough to make such devices commercially viable or how much this would alter the grid, but as a matter of principle, it seems fair enough that any electricity user should be able to sign up for any package they like with second, third and fourth best options to kick in if their top preference isn’t available.

  27. BilB
    March 22nd, 2010 at 11:54 | #27

    As an Industrial Designer working largely in the appliance industry I spent a lot of effort to create interest in the concept of “intelligent appliances”. This concept gives appliances the manage their electricity consumption and agree amoungst themselves who needs the power most. A standard stove for instance can pull up to 6.5 kilowatts at any one time and if this happens when the airconditioner is on maximum along with the toaster and the water heater, then the household can be pulling 15 kilowatts. When the appliances have the ability vary their power drain and prioritise their needs then it is possible to run an entire household with out exceeding a predetermined consumption level. Simpson Appliances were not interested as were Fisher and Paykel. But I now see hints from Europe that energy matters are finally leading to smart appliances that exibit some of these features. I have also learnt this morning that an energy management system is being developed in NZ to integrate demand and energy supply, both solar and grid, for very much what you are talking about.

  28. wilful
    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:01 | #28

    Ernestine, the full report was available via my original link: http://www.climateworksaustralia.com/Low%20Carbon%20Growth%20Plan.pdf

    I read the media reports, I read the report itself, I’m now looking for independent commentary on it. particularly, if he notices, our host, the person whose economic views I most respect.

    BTW, Anna Skarbek, the ED of ClimateWorks, is a very high achiever, extraordinary woman, incredibly intelligent, hard working, and has a working moral compass. Good to see she’s working in this field – she could be off making scads of money as a boring lawyer.

  29. Freelander
    March 22nd, 2010 at 12:11 | #29

    I like the way the police called off the pursuit which translated to, when a bit more information came out, that the police did not follow the car through a red light. The car did not crash at that red light but went through the next one and did. I think it is good that the police chasing the car choose not to blindly drive through a red light. I don’t think it is great that they chased the car until it started going through red lights, presumably at speed.

  30. Michael
    March 22nd, 2010 at 13:13 | #30

    Fran Barlow :
    My attitude is scrupulously rational. Whatever interest I have in their sentiments is purely instrumental. I’m always curious how bad stuff happens and what can be done about it.
    These cops should face charges. They showed nothing like the discretion needed.
    As I’ve said elsewhere on this blog though, I’m very much in favour of DriverID, and remote control of vehicles by the authorities.

    The police should have called off this pursuit earlier but that would have reduced the chances of a collusion not eliminated them. It is difficult to speculate about alternative outcomes but I doubt drivers of stolen cars are the safest drivers on the roads. 100% of the responsibilities still lies with the driver. Stealing a car is a serious crime as is driving dangerously. He could have stopped at anytime. IMHO there is far too much tolerance in the community for crime and lawbreaking and the general approach to law enforcement of using economics to target certain types of crimes for law enforcement rather than basing enforcement on the principle of lawbreaking has probably contributed to this. If you are going to blame the police for this tragedy then why not extend the circle of blame and include all the “enablers” from poorly secured cars, the market for stolen cars, the businesses supplying “hoon” product and the family of the passenger of the stolen car who is already deflecting blame for the drivers actions.
    I’m not sure I fully agree with your remote control but tracking devices should probably be installed and controlled by car owners.

  31. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 22nd, 2010 at 13:45 | #31

    Fran – in practice I think most people want the power on most of the time. However for some people 10 hours of extra outages at approximately random times throughout the year might be quite acceptable whilst for others it wouldn’t. I’m envisaging a capability for a network operator to observe that demand is about to exceed supply and to respond by turning off a set of people based on class of contract rather than the current more crude option of simply switching off a given locality.

    Circa 1992 I worked very briefly in a network control room for an electricity distributor. They had some scope to control demand via remote activation of off peak hot water. If a section of the network was being taken off line they would soak up the sudden excess of supply by turning on hot water systems in an adjacent area. And they could shed load by turning off such systems. However in the middle of the day these units are not generally running so sending a signal for them to turn off wouldn’t yield much change in demand. Overall I don’t share JQs optimism that demand for electricity can be so readily managed that lots of intermittent energy sources make much sense. However I do think we should build our grids with more smarts in order to manage demand better than at present.

  32. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 13:59 | #32

    @Michael

    It is difficult to speculate about alternative outcomes but I doubt drivers of stolen cars are the safest drivers on the roads.

    Precisely why one shouldn’t be chasing them. Ask them to pull over but strictly observe the speed limit. If they don’t stop, radio ahead and slowly encircle them, assuming the matter is serious enough. This is a point the 2007 report I quoted makes.

    100% of the responsibilities still lies with the driver.

    So in that case no responsibility lies with the police and they can pursue them unto death or capture, whichever comes first? Not IMO.

    The primary responsibility lies with the police, since the state of mind and fitness/likelihood of the driver to safely manage high speed flight is a known unknown.

    If you are going to blame the police for this tragedy then why not extend the circle of blame …

    Blame is a moral judgement and is not the issue here. The issue is proximate responsibility, which lies with the police. Of course society is responsible in a more general sense for the culture attending motor vehicle usage and the intellectual and social competence of those who come to be behind the wheels of cars. We can and should do something about this and not merely so fewer cars will be stolen and driven dangerously. But that is a distraction from what it is scedule feasible to do about this problem right now.

  33. wilful
    March 22nd, 2010 at 14:03 | #33

    Fran, there has to be an intermediate point, where criminals in cars being pursued by police know that they’re highly likely to be apprehended.

    I would support electronic kill switches (though they would inevitably malfunction), but I’m not sure the general populace would.

  34. Michael
    March 22nd, 2010 at 14:34 | #34

    Fran Barlow :
    Precisely why one shouldn’t be chasing them. Ask them to pull over but strictly observe the speed limit. If they don’t stop, radio ahead and slowly encircle them, assuming the matter is serious enough. This is a point the 2007 report I quoted makes.

    100% of the responsibilities still lies with the driver.

    So in that case no responsibility lies with the police and they can pursue them unto death or capture, whichever comes first? Not IMO.

    No. I’m not arguing the police didn’t make a mistake or they shouldn’t change their policies. I agree that they shouldn’t have pursued the driver. It clearly is bad policy and they should be condemned for continuing with it. But I still don’t agree that this lessens the culpability of the driver of the stolen vehicle at all, he was presumably a competent adult (from a legal standard point) he made the choices and was in control of the vehicle, and he must have known that he was breaking the law and that the police would try to apprehend him. Publicans aren’t generally held responsible by law for what their drunk customers do when they leave the pub, even when they suspect they are going to drive home. I realise this is slightly different, but in the end people need to be reasonably held responsible for breaking the law. If the police car had collided with the innocent party then they would be responsible for the accident.

  35. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 14:52 | #35

    @wilful

    You woudn’t want a kill switch because it would be unsafe in some circumstances. What would be better would be a progressive shut down either of the fuel ignition system over the course of, say 500 metres or of the electric motor in the case of a PEV.

    Fran, there has to be an intermediate point, where criminals in cars being pursued by police know that they’re highly likely to be apprehended.

    I’m not sure where this gets us. Once again, it is easy to assume what one dare not — that criminals fleeing police act as if they are rational agents and weigh risk and reward accurately and in the same way properly socialised adults do. Of course they don’t, which is why responsibility falls on the responsible adults here, just as it does when you are dealing with children, or the mentally disturbed or incompetent.

    Even when one considers the official figures from the ACT in that report (1.6) 55% of suspects evaded apprehension at the time, and 45% were caught. That sounds like a near 50-50 chance to me.

    The study quotes Homel (1990) about this issue in Perth:

    A common theme in the literature is that the motorist’s act of fleeing from police is the real reason for a pursuit being started, and his behaviour during the pursuit is the reason for the pursuit continuing… motorists who refuse to stop give officers what are, in effect, ‘unexpected slaps in the face’

    So here the claim is that the police decision aims at retribution for insult, rationalised on the “where there’s smoke there’s fire” claim.

    Homel continues at (f) (p7)

    Perth police believed that “If pursuits were to be restricted, there would be a big increase in the number of stolen vehicles and other offences” but then remarked that this was unproven and further “extensive research on traffic law enforcement … suggests that deterrence is a function of the perceived probability of apprehension, and that traditional, traffic law enforcement strategies which focus on the apprehension of offenders do not have much deterrent value. The frequency with which the same names recur in lists of offenders involved in pursuits [also true in the ACT] … suggests that they have little specific deterrent value …”

    Homel went on to recommend that

    a High Speed Pursuit form must be completed by all officers who call a pursuit, no matter how brief the chase and regardless of the outcome… and that the form be amended to require information about the reason for the pursuit in explicit form. If ‘suspicion’ is the reason for initially tailing a motorist, the nature of the suspicious circumstances should be spelled out … [and noted wryly that in the US] “the reams of paperwork required from an officer who discharges a firearm while on duty, together with the formal administrative reviews required, have effected a marked reduction in the number of police killings and injuries, with fewer officers being shot in the line of duty”

    So do police worry more about paperwork than the risk of killing or being killed in the line of duty? Probably not, but the prospect of paerwork is certain whereas the risk of death is set aside under the “it couldn’t happen to me because I’m invincible” principle. In short, the police attitude probably isn’t far different from those they are chasing — and that is a problem.

    I can’t but wonder what would happen if a typical police vehicle were a 1000cc Daihatsu. How would the rate of car theft or collateral damage from pursuits look a couple of years in? I’m guessing car thefts would be about the same and deaths amonsgt all parties lower.

  36. Michael
    March 22nd, 2010 at 15:14 | #36

    Fran Barlow :
    I can’t but wonder what would happen if a typical police vehicle were a 1000cc Daihatsu. How would the rate of car theft or collateral damage from pursuits look a couple of years in? I’m guessing car thefts would be about the same and deaths amonsgt all parties lower.

    I wonder what the statistics for road fatalities in general would be if the average car was a 1000cc Daihatsu. Unfortunately one can only dream.

  37. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 15:30 | #37

    @Michael

    But I still don’t agree that this lessens the culpability of the driver of the stolen vehicle at all,

    If the police are partly responsible (i.e. they were guilty of some error of judgement) then it is at the expense of the responsibility of the alleged car thieves.

    he was presumably a competent adult (from a legal standard point)

    Again there’s no way you can assume this. He could be 14 and driving illegally. The other day a four-year-old in the UK took off with his fathers Range Rover and drove it onto a motorway.

    He could be mentally disturbed or cognitively delayed or drunk or under the influence of MDMA.

    he made the choices and was in control of the vehicle, and he must have known that he was breaking the law and that the police would try to apprehend him.

    Why must he have known that? You cannot map theory to practice. This is the real world we are dealing with.

    Publicans aren’t generally held responsible by law for what their drunk customers do when they leave the pub

    Well actually that is precisely where the law is headed if publicans don’t observe RSA provisions and the ways in which these provisions are to be tested is being tightened up. Pubs who have patrons who cause enough trouble to create complaints can have their licences revoked or limited.

    If the police car had collided with the innocent party then they would be responsible for the accident.

    Not on your reasoning. On your reasoning the fleeing car thieves would be 100% responsible since the police were bound to pursue themn and they ought to have considered that. In the US criminals can be charged with felony murder if a police officer shoots an innocent bystander as a result of what is seen as a legitimate attempt to apprehend them.

    The fact of the matter is that as the report I cite above shows, the vast majority of pursuits were for traffic violations alone. So therefore the majority of deaths are the result of attempts to apprehend someone suspected of nothing more than trying to evade a fine. And apparently, the rate at which police engage in pursuits in NSW exceeds that of LA, allowing for comparable scale. In the 18 monthsbetween 1/1/1990 and 30/6/91 18 Australians died in police pursuits. That is the equivalent of one significant spree killing each year. The report notes that a police pursuit can be expected to generate an accident on 10% of occasions and a fatality on 4% of occasions.

    So really, on those figures, unless you were confident that some very dangerous criminal might evade capture for long enough to compound his crimes, why would you take that risk?

  38. Chris Warren
    March 22nd, 2010 at 15:40 | #38

    Fran is right – there are alternatives to police pursuits.

    I do not think any crime should be pursued by killing innocent civilians.

    After the police-chase death of Clea Rose not so long ago, I would have thought this was pretty obvious.

    I say; leave the killing of innocents to the Australian army, capitalist insulation installers, (and international terrorists). Don’t let the police get into the act.

  39. Michael
    March 22nd, 2010 at 15:58 | #39

    Fran Barlow :
    Again there’s no way you can assume this. He could be 14 and driving illegally. The other day a four-year-old in the UK took off with his fathers Range Rover and drove it onto a motorway.
    He could be mentally disturbed or cognitively delayed or drunk or under the influence of MDMA.

    True….. but he wasn’t in this case as far as we know and there is also no evidence at this stage that the police were responding to a “slap in the face”. But I can see your points, and I agree that given the unknown nature of the drivers state of mind pursuits are a bad idea. I don’t think I have advocated this policy anywhere.
    I guess I’m struggling with the idea that the thief should have his culpability reduced. As I said early on, I have little tolerance for the kind of excuses the enablers are coming up with after the event such as “They’re to blame, they’re to blame totally, I blame the police totally,” she said. “Yes, Justin may have a little bit to do with it but … you know.” and “Mr Oppelaar’s brother, Chris Mills, said: ”You have to ask who’s responsible … in some part it’s the driver for doing the speeds he was doing, but mostly it comes down to the coppers … what good’s a stolen car?”
    Mr Mills paid tribute to Mr Oppelaar as a larrikin who had many friends.’
    ”He was a top bloke. He had trouble in his past, but he was starting to put all the pieces together and start a new life,” he said.”

    I have to live around “great blokes” and “larrakins” who are really just criminals and selfish sociopathic @rsh0les degrading everyone else’s quality of life. Maybe I’m getting old, and maybe I have lived in countries where “larrakinism” isn’t venerated and criminals aren’t giving endless excuses for their behaviour. IMHO the “rational” policy responses are contributing to an environment where there can be a “rational” resort to crime. I’m well aware I’m not responding from a detached academic POV.

  40. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 18:12 | #40

    @Michael

    Let’s face it Michael. This accident was the alleged offender’s second in a stolen car in which he was injured. He wasn’t running a teraflop processor in between his ears. His would have been lucky to have its analog sound middle C. ;-) Hmmm

    That’s not an excuse, but it is a reason and pushing him to apply himself to the business of escape was poor risk trading. One need not venerate the alleged offender to recognise that his circumstances were unlikely to be entirely of his own making, and once one knows ands accepts this as a fact of cultural life, the question remains — how do rational people respond when confronted with people who don’t properly grasp their own best interests and are likely to harm others in their error?

    There’s no general answer to that, but the question needs to be considered more than these cops did.

    Moral judgement and visceral sentiment comes easily to us all, but they help us not at all. Condeming some as “a***holes” and wailing and gnashing one’s teeth is one manifestation of the attitudes by the police and larrikins that authors these events. You are responding emtionally rather than analytically. If we are to get policy right, we must make rational calculus and a vision of the social arrangements as they should be the centre piece of public policy.

  41. Donald Oats
    March 22nd, 2010 at 18:21 | #41

    Some comments from someone who is not a police officer (that someone being me)…

    Police pursuits aren’t engaged in at a whim in Australia. In South Australia at least, as soon as a chase is deemed necessary, an independent officer is assigned to radio link with the pursuit officers, and their role is to monitor. The independent officer can call for the pursuit to be terminated at any time, including before it has started, as may happen in poor weather conditions; the pursuit officers may of course also terminate at any time, usually because of a consideration of risk to the public, the “chasee”, and the pursuit police.
    Even in pursuit, in fact especially in pursuit, the pursuit police must consider the safety of the public.
    If a pursuit is terminated prematurely, the police must pull over, provide coordinates, and wait until relieved by another officer. Basically this is to establish that the pursuit police did indeed terminate at the time and place they claimed, among other things.

    I haven’t polled them, but I’m guessing that pursuit police do not want to maim or kill anyone (with the exception of the few of nature’s disappointment that are present in all walks of life), especially not innocent people or themselves, or other police officers.

    When confronted with a person behaving in a manner dangerous to other members of the public – armed robbery being an obvious and too frequent case – police have a duty to contain and apprehend. Failure to pursue a robber after shots have been fired and people menaced is likely to be considered a failure of duty. Mind you, pursuit in this case might not be by the officers on the scene, but some police officers are going to have to intervene at some point.

    One day police might have the “eye in the sky” or even drones that may hover and fly at speed in order to track, not chase, a fugitive. Before that day comes though, police and all of us are going to have to regularly review the rules of pursuit. Indeed, after some specific pursuit related crashes or near-misses, rules have consequently been reviewed and changed.
    [Very conservative rules mean no pursuits and fewer crimes solved and prosecuted. Very lax rules leave too much to the individual police officer and also increase the overall risk to the public through a higher frequency of pursuits. However, there is an upper bound on pursuits, which is roughly speaking a function of how many fleeing criminals there are (per unit time), as well as of how many trained pursuit officers are operational and how many pursuit cars are available.]

    One of life’s thornier issues I think.

  42. Fran Barlow
    March 22nd, 2010 at 18:42 | #42

    @Donald Oats

    I haven’t asserted they want to kill anyone Donald. I’ve merely asserted that they love the chase so much that the conseuences tend to move our of the conscious parts of their minds.

    If the reasons police start pursuits are any guide, the rate of solved serious crimes will be unaffected. Some might get their infringement notices late though.

  43. boconnor
    March 22nd, 2010 at 18:58 | #43

    @Fran #41 and elsewhere

    Fran, I continue to be impressed by your analysis and steadfastness on this issue.

    Two thoughts.

    First, it seems that any implicit cost benefit analysis used to continue the pursuit policy must be putting lower weight on lives lost (adults in their prime, children, babies) than the benefits of catching potential felons. That seems very poor public policy.

    Second, I am quite attracted to Andrew Leigh’s idea of using randomized experiments to inform public policy. Apparently there are some 2000 police pursuits in NSW each year. So it would seem to be quite straightforward for the NSW Police to randomize those pursuits, with 1000 events being pursued and 1000 not being pursued according to a random selection process. Then evaluate the result of pursuit vs. non pursuit, and see if the result justifies the risk.

    The alternative to some experimentation? Continue the blinked policy of pursuit at all costs, even when it demonstrably results in serious injury and death for innocent people.

  44. Freelander
    March 22nd, 2010 at 19:08 | #44

    Attributing moral responsibility is always interesting.

    Consider the case of some madman running down a hall and stabbing everyone in that hall. Clearly they are responsible for their actions, that is, for stabbing these individuals.

    Now consider that I, seeing what is going on, push someone into the hall into the path of the oncoming madman. Then I close the door behind them leaving them in the hall with nowhere to hide. The madman then stabs them.

    Am I now absolved of any blame simply because it was the madman that stabbed them and I can hardly be held responsible for the madman’s actions?

    But clearly I knew what was likely to happen as a result of my actions.

    Maybe if you are the police chasing some driver, who really is obliged to stop, and in their efforts to get away, that driver has an accident resulting in 4 deaths, maybe, just maybe, some responsibility ought to be borne by you, who could have fore-sawn the potential result of your actions?

  45. SJ
    March 22nd, 2010 at 20:15 | #45

    Terje Says:

    The following article being an instance of the term brownout being used to describe rationing through rolling blackouts.

    Terje, making stuff up does not constitute evidence of anything other than your own willingness to make stuff up.

    You have simply imagined that Ferguson was talking about rolling blackouts.

    Speaking to CEOs at a meeting in Brisbane organised by the Energy Supply Association of Australia, Minister Ferguson said electricity prices have risen by about 35 per cent over the last three years.

    Minister Ferguson said: “These price rises have nothing to do with the CPRS.

    “The biggest cause of higher electricity prices in Australia is the high capital cost of increased investment in electricity networks – investment that is critical to guarantee supply reliability.

    “Consumers have the right to expect Governments to keep the air conditioners on in the middle of summer and to run – on demand – all the modern appliances we enjoy in the 21st century.

    “While there is room for increased energy efficiency at home and at work, no-one wants brown-outs or other restrictions on supply, such as those we have faced with water for many years.

    Emphasis mine.

    Note that this was the original point , that brownouts result from localised lack of network capacity, not a general lack of generating capacity.

    Others should also note that I’m no defender of Ferguson. The guy’s trying to be deliberately misleading about the costs of CPRS.

  46. SJ
    March 22nd, 2010 at 20:18 | #46

    Hopefully, here’s the proper link to the original point referred to above.

  47. Michael
    March 22nd, 2010 at 20:57 | #47

    Freelander :
    Attributing moral responsibility is always interesting.
    Consider the case of some madman running down a hall and stabbing everyone in that hall. Clearly they are responsible for their actions, that is, for stabbing these individuals.
    Now consider that I, seeing what is going on, push someone into the hall into the path of the oncoming madman. Then I close the door behind them leaving them in the hall with nowhere to hide. The madman then stabs them.

    I’m not sure your extreme scenario is applicable. In your scenario the madmen is stabbing people and if you knowingly put someone into that situation then of course you are morally responsible for your part. One could imagine that if the police were able to stop a stolen car then they could conceivably prevent an accident. I would never advocate pursuit to recover a stolen vehicle – that would truly be obscene. You can’t be sure that a person driving a stolen vehicle is going to automatically drive within safe limits just because they aren’t being pursued and therefore cease to be a threat of danger to the public. It doesn’t take much to get involved in a fatal car crash.
    The circumstances of this crash make it clear in hindsight that the pursuit was a bad idea and the management of pursuits has clearly been proven ineffective. But comparing the police in this instance to your scenario is going too far. I was incorrect to say the police don’t bare part responsibility but the majority of the blame still lies with the car thief and his enablers.

    Fran Barlow :
    You are responding emtionally rather than analytically. If we are to get policy right, we must make rational calculus and a vision of the social arrangements as they should be the centre piece of public policy.

    Agreed. Law shouldn’t be about vengeance, but it must be about principle as well not just rational calculus.

  48. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 22nd, 2010 at 21:07 | #48

    SJ – the content of the article I linked to may be inaccurate but I did not make it up.

    THE FEDERAL Government has warned of brown-outs and national power shortages if $100 billion is not spent on generators in the next 10 years

    Perhaps the issue is in transmission or in distribution but the article states that it is a lack of generator capacity.

  49. SJ
    March 22nd, 2010 at 21:24 | #49

    No, Terje, you made it up.

    Take the bit you quoted:

    THE FEDERAL Government has warned of brown-outs and national power shortages if $100 billion is not spent on generators in the next 10 years

    The quote wouldn’t have the word “and” in it, if “brown-outs” meant the same thing as “power shortages”.

    Quit while you’re behind, Terje.

  50. Ernestine Gross
    March 22nd, 2010 at 21:25 | #50

    wilful @27, I am still reading the web link. IMHO, these kind of papers are more useful then talking points. For some sections one needs detailed technical know-how – which I don’t have – to comment. Perhaps you write to our host to ask explicitly for his opinion. Thank you for the link.

  51. Alice
    March 22nd, 2010 at 21:54 | #51

    @SJ
    Terje only runs well on a very muddy track SJ!

  52. Freelander
    March 22nd, 2010 at 21:57 | #52

    @Michael

    No comparison was made. The point that was made is that if you can foresee what can happen, that your action entails risk even if the agent of the risk will ultimately be another you cannot absolve yourself of responsibility. Every responsible person is responsible for their own actions. Their decisions have outcomes and entail risks.

    A problem with some reasoning about responsibility is that if you make someone else responsible that diminishes the responsibilities of others. In the example, the madman’s responsibility (assuming they are a responsible person) for stabbing someone is not diminished simply because someone else put the person in their path. Neither is the responsibility of the person who put the person in the madman’s path diminished because the madman might be held liable for their actions. Whoever put the person in the path of the madman with foreseen consequences is as guilty as they would be if it was a bull charging down the hall or some other danger. The police are no more or less guilty because of the guilt of the culprit. How much ‘hindsight’ is needed before what can be foreseen as an outcome that has a decent chance of happening can be predicted with foresight? The likelihood of someone who is being chased and is likely to go through red lights at high speed in a built up area having an accident and maybe a fatal accident is more likely than that happening if someone is driving under the influence. People are routinely prosecuted for driving under the influence because that is known to be a risky thing to do. So is absconding at high speed from the police, and so is encouraging that person to continue the absconding at high speed by chasing them and trying to catch them.

  53. SJ
    March 22nd, 2010 at 21:58 | #53

    Ernestine, FWIW, I’ve had a quick skim through the Climateworks plan, and I can’t see anything obviously wrong with it.

    Exhibit 4 is the key thing in the plan, which shows the things that are profitable for households and businesses to do without a carbon tax on the left side, and the things that only become worthwhile after a carbon tax on the right side.

    There are things in Exhibit 4 that have to do with cropland management and reforestation which I’m in no way qualified to comment on, and perhaps John might do that.

    However, the things in there about the cost/benefit of modifying commercial lighting, heating and air conditioning, etc. are correct.

    The things on the left hand side that I’m familiar with really are profitable. They actually do represent hundred dollar bills left on the pavement.

  54. Donald Oats
    March 22nd, 2010 at 22:11 | #54

    @Fran Barlow

    Looks like NSW have similar rules for police pursuit to what I described for the SA police – scroll down to bottom and the second last letter by Brian Maguire QC is on the NSW police pursuit rules.

    BTW, I’m not making this up, but I know of cases where pursuit police have had to give chase at night, and they have obeyed the traffic lights even with no apparent traffic. Kind of makes a pursuit difficult but again, if a police accident involving other traffic occurred and traffic lights weren’t obeyed, the pursuit police may be in serious trouble (even with no injury involved). Each situation is assessed as it is, as far as I am aware. And that is as it should be, since the risk to public safety is a balance between the offender being free to harm, and the harm that may be caused in a pursuit of the offender.

  55. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    March 22nd, 2010 at 22:34 | #55

    SJ – touché.

  56. Donald Oats
    March 22nd, 2010 at 22:41 | #56

    @Fran Barlow

    I’m an Atheist but this still made me sit up and say “Oh My God!”
    Fran, the police involved in the polac might have just had their first ever incident, in which case it is almost certain that they may be quite affected (ie traumatised). This isn’t to diminish in any way the trauma and grief of the friends and family of the dead. But assigning blame to the pursuit police alone isn’t a reasonable position to hold without knowing more about the circumstances leading up to the decision to pursue the suspect. I would be more inclined to agree with you on trying to absolutely minimise the situations in which police are allowed to pursue – as opposed to follow, with regard to all road rules including speed limits – a person suspected of an illegal act. Situations involving sieges, armed holdup, and a few other special cases, I think could justify allowing a pursuit (where the offendant is armed and an imminent threat to the lives of members of the public).

    BTW, police in the course of their normal duties may be required somewhere else, urgently. They typically speed with sirens on, but even so they must still drive with suitable allowance for traffic and weather conditions, and with due regard for the safety of others. I notice that crashes involving police speeding on the way to the scene of a crime garner far less opprobrium and far less press than “hot” pursuits.

    Finally, every car driver is a risk to the other members of the public: driving is inherently risky. Given the number of hours of driving, how many accidents are trained pursuit police involved in compared with the average Joe/Joanne with a license? Dunno, but my point is that if road users all obeyed the rules, and the minority who insist that the rules aren’t for them actually grew a brain and started obeying them, then there wouldn’t be as many accidents full stop. Too many drivers are at the left end of the distribution yet think they are at the right end :-P

  57. wilful
    March 23rd, 2010 at 08:25 | #57

    Well I’ve sent a direct request to Pr Q. From my review of the document, without any economic credentials, it all looks pretty authoritative, measured and sensible.

    Mind you, you would expect the first 25% to be far far easier than the next 25%. Is there in fact a structural flaw with this plan in that it is not transformative enough? Once we get to these reductions by 2020, have we laid the groundwork for the following 15 years?

  58. Ernestine Gross
    March 23rd, 2010 at 08:33 | #58

    @SJ

    I don’t think it is as trivial as you suggest. The crucial points are the methodology and the assumptions.

  59. Ernestine Gross
    March 23rd, 2010 at 08:36 | #59

    @wilful

    I have finished reading. I am not sure that a post on a blogsite would be appropriate for comments.

  60. wilful
    March 23rd, 2010 at 08:54 | #60

    Ernestine Gross :
    @wilful
    I have finished reading. I am not sure that a post on a blogsite would be appropriate for comments.

    ? appropriate ?

  61. Fran Barlow
    March 23rd, 2010 at 09:08 | #61

    @Donald Oats

    Situations involving sieges, armed holdup, and a few other special cases, I think could justify allowing a pursuit (where the offendant is armed and an imminent threat to the lives of members of the public).

    Just so. Rational calculus is involved. Unless the vehicl;e involved is carrying someone that a reasonable person would regard as a serious prospect of committing a crime of violence unless immediately apprehended AND there is no reasonable prospect of that occurring without an urgent duty driving (their jargon) situation then I’d say do not pursue at speed or near proximity.

    Finally, every car driver is a risk to the other members of the public: driving is inherently risky.

    I agree.

    I’m very much in favour of an increase in electronic surveillance of roads and public places and again, this would substantially foreclose the need for such pursuits. I’d also like it to be impossible to start vehicles’ engines without a biometric log-in and a functioning wireless device successfully pinging a repeater station or broadcasting an encrypted signal available to a receiving device held by the police and emergency services. I’d also like it to become the case that far fewer vehicle miles per capita were driven in private vehicles, particularly in urban areas where there ought to be good public transport options.

    Much tidier, as experience shows that many people are temperamentally and/or culturally ill-suited to driving. With fewer vehicles and all of them controlled, we get almost no car thefts. So we get GHG abatement, import substitution, falling car insurance costs, vehicle-facilitated offences and improved road safetyy all in one go.

  62. Ernestine Gross
    March 23rd, 2010 at 10:03 | #62

    @wilful

    Here are my comments on the climateworks paper.

    The paper has the format of a corporate strategic management plan. As such it is a corporate version of centralised planning.

    There are known problems with corporte strategic plans even for single large corporations. Only very few corporate strategic plans deal with contingencies even on the level of one corporation. This problem is potentially magnified for the climateworks plan because it offers only one specific scenario even though the authors of the paper don’t have the decision making power of ‘management’ (including board of directors) of a single corporation.

    There is an extensive bibliography. However, this list is useless because of the absence of references in the text to the items in the bibliography. This means the reader has to believe the ‘managers’. I do not wish to suggest that the members of climateworks and their advisors haven’t done an honest job. I am saying that the approach is not helpful for public policy because the readers have to go through all papers in an attempt to reconstruct the conclusions.

    The method involves what is known as incremental method of capital budgeting decisions. For a single decision making entity this is a reasonable method. The authors are aware that their conclusions depend on a specific sequenc of decisions. This is an extremely strong assumption given that decision making is decentralised.

    The method involves team judgements. This is not a bad method for a single corporation (aggregates information, including expectations). But, it is not clear at all how these team judgements are to relate to decisions made by thousands of major and millions of minor decision makers. While the paper says it is based on expert local and overseas advice, there are no names. Who would carry the responsibility for economic and financial consequences?

    An example of a team decision is the a priori picking of ‘winners’, 54 out of over 100. Why? To be more specific, why is the aviation industry not included at all?

    The paper’s method of allocating emissions (ie where measurement takes place) is, IMO, not administratively cost efficient. The changes in emissions are allocated to the end product instead of at the source. This works well for the ‘low fruit’ items (ie operational efficiency improvements) but not for major capital investment decisions. (It may provide a lot of jobs for cost accountants).

    The authors have done a good job in making explicit some of their assumptions. Unfortunately, these are only point estimates (as is common in capital budgeting decisions of some companies; ie those who do not deal with contingencies).

    Having said all this, the paper is useful in the sense that it presents one numerical worked example of a potentially very large set of possible development paths with at least as good results in aggregate. As such it may mitigate propaganda on the exorbitant ‘costs’ of climate change mitigation. If it achieves this, it is already a good thing. As a plan of action it is not obviously consistent with a market oriented democratic society.

    You asked for it, wilful.

  63. wilful
    March 23rd, 2010 at 10:26 | #63

    Thanks. Appreciated. Entirely appropriate, too.

    I would suggest that if you got into discussion with the authors on these points, they would largely agree wholeheartedly, but would be vociferous in defending your (their) final point. They don’t (seem to) claim to be totalitarians, or to have a worked plan that distinguishes between prices in some areas and regulation in others, but their plan is just as defensible as the BCA’s propaganda efforts.

  64. Ernestine Gross
    March 23rd, 2010 at 10:50 | #64

    I’ve registered for the Sydney event. Lets see whether I’ll get an invitation.

  65. Peter T
    March 23rd, 2010 at 13:07 | #65

    On police chases -

    There were 1803 in NSW in 2009, down from 2227 in 2004. The fall is attributed to stricter policies and closer monitoring.

    According to the Herald, and average of 5.4 people a year died in police chases in the 10 years to 2004.

    Road deaths in NSW average 466 a year over the ten years to 2009. So deaths in police chases are just over 1% of all deaths. 40% (176) of deaths involve excessive speed. I don’t know how many were bystanders.

    70% of all chases last less than 2 minutes.

    Police know that a large proportion of crimes (including theft, assault, driving offences and so on) are committed by a small number of high-risk taking individuals – usually young men.

    One effective strategy is to remove these people from the community, but the justice system (rightly) judges individual acts first, and takes account of patterns of behaviour only at sentencing. So any given incident can be a one-off or it can be a serial offender up to multiple things. Hard to know unless you apprehend them. Also hard to deal with them unless you repeatedly apprehend them, and make the case in court that the offender is a real menace.

    The offenders know this – so it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t for the police.

    And the sorts of judgements involved have to be made quickly, with limited information. I have had enough to do with police to know that the most common attitude to this is “oh no, here we go again. I wish they would just stop….” I recall the wry dismay of one officer who, driving home after a long day was revved at the lights by a bloke who fishtailed off. He felt he had to pull him over (despite this meaning another hour of paperwork). Unlicensed, unregistered, wanted for several minor offences, and a long list of unpaid fines.

    I don’t believe the application of ever larger does of managerial rationality will make this kind of problem go away.

  66. Salient Green
    March 23rd, 2010 at 17:48 | #66

    PeterT great work chasing down those figures and laying them out. We’ve had poor social policy for so long and this is just one consequence coming around to bite us. I’ve been in trouble with the law several times in my life, not too seriously, and had a copper for a mate and read numerous blog posts from coppers and they are without doubt the good guys and it is so unfair to saddle them with so much blame in relation to car chases.

    When governments ignore the realities in our community of 4th generation unemployed/alcoholic/drug addict/abused/mentally ill/criminal family groups or refuse intervention what can you do?

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