Fatal crash leads to high speed pursuit warning to police
The Police Ombudsman has warned of the dangers of vehicle pursuits when it is clear that suspects are prepared to put themselves and others at risk in their determination to evade capture.
Dr Michael Maguire issued the warning as he released the findings of investigations into two police pursuits, during which one person died and three others suffered serious injuries.
Eight police officers have been disciplined for breaches of the police pursuit policy.
Conal Daly (19) died and two people were seriously injured when a car being driven by a 16-year-old collided with an oncoming vehicle during a high speed pursuit near Carryduff in Co Down in October 2014.
The second incident happened in the Newtownabbey area in February 2016.
A driver was thrown from his vehicle when it was struck by a car which went through a red light while being pursued by police officers.
The driver suffered serious injuries, requiring lengthy hospital treatment.
"I must make it clear that the people responsible for these collisions were the drivers who failed to stop for the police," said Dr Maguire.
"But as these drivers were clearly prepared to place themselves and others in danger in their determination to get away, police should have followed their own policy and stopped the pursuits.
"Both incidents involved cars travelling at high speeds through built-up areas, narrowly avoiding collisions with other vehicles and running red lights, while police continued to give chase.
"By continuing the pursuits in these circumstances, police failed to follow their own policy," he added.
The investigation of the fatal collision near Carryduff on October 16, 2014 found that police cars had reached speeds of up to 110mph in a 50mph zone during the pursuit.
The probe into the Newtownabbey collision of February 21, 2016 also found that police failed to follow their own policy.
It ended when the suspect vehicle went through a set of red lights at the junction of the Antrim and Hightown Roads and collided with another car.
"The risks and warning signs should have been obvious and the pursuit should have been abandoned," said Dr Maguire.