Officers have been disciplined after chasing a 16-year-old in a Jaguar at over 100mph, a pursuit that ended with a fatal collision.
The police ombudsman has released the findings of investigations into two police pursuits, during which a 19-year-old man lost his life and three others suffered serious injuries.
The ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, warned of the potential dangers of continuing the chase after it becomes clear that drivers are prepared to put themselves and others at risk in their determination to evade capture.
Eight police officers have been disciplined for breaches of the police pursuit policy following the investigations.
In the first of the two investigations, a 19-year-old died and two people were seriously injured after a Jaguar being driven by a 16-year-old collided with an oncoming Volkswagen Polo near Carryduff in Co Down in October 2014.
The 19-year-old was a passenger in the Jaguar. The driver of the Polo and the 16 -year-old driver of the Jaguar both sustained serious injuries.
The investigation found that police cars had reached speeds of up to 110mph in a 50mph zone during the pursuit.
The ombudsman said that continuing the pursuit was “at odds with the police pursuit policy and training”.
Dr Maguire said: “These state that the main consideration should be the risks posed by the suspect driver, not by police.
“It should also have been clear that the risks outweighed the reasons to continue. The thefts which sparked the pursuit involved goods valued at £172, and did not involve violence.”
The second incident happened in the Newtownabbey area in February, 2016, when a driver was thrown from his vehicle when it was struck by a car that ran a red light while being pursued by police.
The driver suffered serious injuries requiring lengthy hospital treatment.
The suspect driver had narrowly avoided a collision with a police car, had driven through red lights and reached speeds in excess of 70mph in 30mph zones. The pursuit lasted more than 11 minutes through the Glengormley, Newtownabbey and north Belfast areas.
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.
The PSNI has since acted upon recommendations by the police ombudsman that five officers should be disciplined over the Carryduff chase, and a further three officers over the Newtownabbey pursuit.