Call to end police pursuits in Victoria
The death of a motorcyclist west of Melbourne on Friday showed the need for an immediate end to high-speed police pursuits, according to Jesuit Fr Peter Norden.
Speaking on behalf of the Criminal Justice Coalition, Fr Norden said the group backed recommendations, by deputy state coroner Ian West earlier this year, that pursuits be put on hold until police could confidently protect human lives.
"The protection of human life must be the highest priority for each member of the Victorian Police," Fr Norden said.
"A human life is worth more than hundreds or even thousands of stolen cars."
Police confirmed that the car which smashed into a motorcyclist while driving down the wrong side of the Geelong Road west of Melbourne on Friday morning had earlier been pursued by police.
Witnesses said the car was being chased prior to the accident but a police spokeswoman said the pursuit had been called off at the time of the crash.
Fr Norden said the death was a tragedy.
"A speeding motor vehicle is a dangerous weapon, whether in the hands of an alleged car theft or members of the Victorian Police Force," Fr Norden said.
He said police claims that the pursuit had been terminated shortly before the fatality needed to be independently assessed.
"If they are saying that the pursuit was called off then why was the helicopter there?" he said.
Fresh calls to end pursuits (The Age 16/4/04)
Police high speed pursuits must end to prevent loss of more innocent lives (Victorian Criminal Justice Coalition 16/4/04)
Group calls for police pursuit halt (ABC 16/4/04)
Freeway horror (Geelong Advertiser 17/4/04)
Road horror renews chase furore (The Age 17/4/04)
Jesuit Social Services
19 Apr 2004