One of the few areas where the Baillieu government has been publicizing its activities is in the area of law and order. Sadly, most of these initiatives have been typically moronic right-wing punishment-focused nonsense which achieve little besides wasting large amounts of money putting people in prison without actually having any effect on crime.
The latest stunt is to make “hoons” engaging in a police pursuit a specific criminal offence, punishable by up to three years in the clink and a mandatory 12-month licence disqualification.
Now, call me naive, but isn’t anyone engaging in a police pursuit already committing any number of crimes, including the existing law against “Driving a motor vehicle when directed to stop” which is punishable by up to six months imprisonment for a first offence, as well as dangerous driving, which is punishable by up to two years’ in jail – in addition to the crime that they are already suspected of committing?
Another useful piece of information to keep in mind is that fully 88% of drivers who die in police pursuits have alcohol or drugs in their bloodstream. This doesn’t tell us how many drivers who didn’t die in police pursuits were drunk or drugged, but it’s a ratio well above that of that among drivers who die in car accidents more generally. It’s also consistent with my working assumption that the vast majority of people who try to outrun cops aren’t making coolly rational decisions to do so.
It’s also consistent with other states, which in response to deaths in pursuits have decided to restrict the circumstances in which they will engage in them, by not initiating pursuits to chase those who have committed traffic offences or stolen cars.
But not this government, who is going to window-dress the real problem of people dying in police pursuits by addressing the non-existent problem that there are insufficient crimes with which to charge those stupid and reckless enough to try and run from the cops. Pathetic.
(incidentally, nice reporting from Nino Bucci at The Age who dug up a fair bit of the relevant context in the original report).