Courtesy of Australian reader Snoggeramus, we learn of a car thief who took mockery of the law to a new level.
... criminals are taunting police over the "no pursuits" policy, with one teenage car thief phoning the service during a chase to complain that officers should not be on his tail.
In one of the most frustrating incidents to emerge since the policy was introduced last year, the 18-year-old offender phoned the Policelink hotline and triple-0 when he was behind the wheel of a stolen car on Brisbane's southside last week.
His brazen phone calls, in which he skited that officers had to back off because the pursuit was becoming dangerous, have prompted renewed calls from the Queensland Police Union to scrap the no-pursuits policy, which was designed to save lives.
"The entire system has become dysfunctional, with criminals now taunting police and the courts refusing to enforce the mandatory penalties in legislation," police union president Ian Leavers said.
"Criminals know police have a 'no pursuits policy' and we have just seen a frightening increase of criminals deliberately taunting and stalking police in their cars, knowing full well police are not allowed to pursue them."
However, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart last night warned of the dangers of chasing drivers who were often young, inexperienced and affected by drugs and alcohol.
"The juvenile behaviour of this offender does not trigger a potentially life-threatening response by police," he said.
. . .
"There are circumstances where more serious crimes have been committed, and where not pursuing may lead to a greater danger to the public, and in those instances the policy does allow our officers to pursue."
Under the pursuits policy, introduced last December, officers are barred from high-speed chases unless the offender is a violent high-risk or lives are threatened.
It followed 19 deaths and 737 injuries from police pursuits since 2000, including the tragic case of schoolgirl Caitlin Hanrick, 13, who died after being hit by a stolen car during a chase at Redcliffe.
There's more at the link.
I can understand Commissioner Stewart's point: police pursuits are inherently dangerous, both to those involved and to other traffic on the roads (including pedestrians). However, if you allow criminals to get away with their crimes - particularly when those crimes include deliberately taunting and baiting the police - you're making the situation worse, not better.
Part of the problem is the lenient sentencing followed by Australian courts. An offender who hasn't committed a violent crime, but merely stolen a car and taunted police in the process, might get at most a few months behind bars. If the authorities would impose tougher sentences, so that offenders - particularly repeat offenders - knew they faced three to five years behind bars, they'd have much less incentive to take the law lightly.
When this sort of thing becomes routine, the system is broken. It needs to be fixed . . . or replaced by one that works better.