Police prangs: $24.3 million repair bill for damage to patrol cars, intentional damage increasing

Almost 9000 police cars have been damaged since 2015 – with a repair bill of more than $24.3 million.

Of those, more than 1000 were intentionally rammed by offenders, and 618 deliberately vandalised.

A further 162 had to be repaired after the driver hit an animal, 2107 after stationary objects were struck and 39 after red lights were “disobeyed”.

And 331 vehicles were written off entirely across the country.

The most

accidents were notched up in the Waitemata and Counties Manukau Districts – closely followed by Auckland City and Canterbury.

Police were not able to say how many of the incidents happened while the vehicle was being used on duty – but provided a comprehensive breakdown of how each was damaged.

In the first two months of 2021 alone there were $113,739 worth of repairs:

• Northland: 5 damaged vehicles at $8603.66

• Waitemata: 25 damaged vehicles at $25,855.57

• Auckland City: 13 damaged vehicles at $9479.19

• Counties Manukau: 27 damaged vehicles at $21,158.18

• Waikato: 24 damaged vehicles at $16,380.87

• Bay of Plenty: 16 damaged vehicles at $6536.15

• Central: 15 damaged vehicles at $8833.23

• Eastern: 12 damaged vehicles at $5745.17

• Wellington: 12 damaged vehicles at $2586.13

• Tasman: 3 damaged vehicles – full repair costs not yet provided

• Canterbury: 10 damaged vehicles at $4274.94

• Southern: 12 damaged vehicles at $4067.14

• Royal NZ Police College: 2 damaged vehicles – full repair costs not yet provided

• Police National Headquarters: 7 damaged vehicles at $300.54

• Information and technology: 1 damaged vehicle at $97.75

In 2020 the total repair bill came in at $4,141,226.89 compared with a whopping $4,999,869.35 in 2019 and $4,290,681.47 in 2018.

A source told the Herald that the number of people intentionally damaging patrol cars was concerning.

“There is one issue that continues to grow and that is the number of police cars which are being deliberately rammed,” he said.

“It has become a major problem and … seems to be a nationwide problem and clearly a deliberate pattern.”

The figures show that the number of police cars intentionally rammed by offenders had steadily increased from 132 in 2015 to 249 in 2019.

There was a slight decrease to 217 in 2020 but given the national level 4 lockdown and subsequent lLevel 3 restrictions in Auckland, that was expected.

Vandalism also spiked – from 80 damaged cars in 2015 to 160 in 2020.

Among the incidents where cars were damaged:

• In August last year 42-year-old Christchurch woman stole a police car before crashing after refusing a breath test.

• In October last year a police car was shot at by two men in masks near Kerikeri. The car’s windscreen was damaged and the officer driving was shaken but uninjured.

• In 2019 when police apprehended the man responsible for the Christchurch mosque attack they rammed his car off the road, damaging the police vehicle in the process.

• In December 2018 a Christchurch man fleeing police rammed the officer’s vehicle twice.

Police recently said that any crash involving a patrol car was “concerning”.

They said every effort was made to understand the causes and circumstances of such crashes.

Given the time police spent out on the roads, it was inevitable there would be a higher number of crashes than other government agencies.

As such, police staff were required to maintain a “high standard of driving”.

Police said any crash or incident where a patrol car was damaged resulted in the
organisation looking for lessons and ways to improve safety and mitigate risk.

All recruits are given specialist lessons – and on occasion the Driver Training Unit at police college provide additional training for more senior officers as well as other government agencies upon request.

“All driver training delivered sets out competencies that focus on producing the safest possible drivers,” police stated.

Training goals include officers knowing how to control their vehicle – and the physics of its operation and being aware of traffic situations and knowing how to assess and anticipate hazards.

“We consider how we manoeuvre our vehicles accurately with continuous self-assessment to achieve improvement asking questions of the driver about being in control of the vehicle how well did they do and what did they do less well and how may it be improved,” said a training document provided to the Herald by police.

Officers must also “consider the purpose of the journey”, including how urgent it is and what pressures a driver can be put under if it was not a “routine response”.

“We make sure that we emphasise that the driver needs to plan adequately for their journey and how much pressure are they are under,” they said.

Human factors were also hugely important in driver training.

“(An) Important question that we ask is, has the driver given thought to their personality, confidence, attitudes and mood to driving,” police said in the document.

“Again, emphasis is based on our values and how is the driver behaving on their own or within a group.

“There are a number of self-assessment questions asked of the driver with regards to, are they impulsive, what tendencies or attitudes do they have with regards to managing their driving, are they competitive, do they find speed exciting and do they get irritated by other road users.”

The DTU provides a five-day driving tuition course to recruits and, at the end, they are assessed and certified if they have met all requirements.

At the end of the week the recruits are assessed and if successful will be


“The course is a mixture of road policing skills and driving,” police said.

“The recruits also have road policing theory lessons prior to coming to driver training.”

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