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Vehicle pursuit management

Dated: 23 September 2021

POLICY TITLE: Vehicle Pursuit Management

OWNING DIRECTORATE: Force Coordination

AUTHOR: Chief Inspector, Tactical Operations



AIM OF POLICY: To outline Force policy in respect of vehicle pursuits, their application and practice.

BENEFIT OF POLICY: To provide clarity for police officers in the management of vehicle pursuits.

REASON FOR POLICY:  Northumbria Police recognises its positive duty to protect life imposed by Article 2 of the Human Rights Act 1998. The Force also has a duty to prevent crime and to prosecute offenders.

The safe stopping of vehicles by authorised police drivers is part of everyday police duties, however, the pursuit of offenders in vehicles is sometimes necessary to identify or arrest offenders, or to prevent or minimise the risk to the public caused by offending drivers.

Pursuit activity and use of pursuit tactics are likely to place members of the public and police officers under a significant degree of risk. Wherever possible, trying to prevent a pursuit from taking place must be a primary consideration. 

Officers authorised in pursuit and incident managers must give due regard to the purpose and justification of actions and decisions of a pursuit. The key consideration is to ask, is this pursuit necessary, balanced against threat, risk and harm for which the subject driver is being (or about to be) pursued? 

The National Decision Model (NDM) must be applied when consideration is being given whether to pursue a vehicle, and continually evaluated during the pursuit. Before engaging in, or authorising, a pursuit, officers and managers must be familiar with the pursuit considerations. 

A police driver is deemed to be in pursuit when a driver/motorcyclist indicates by their actions or continuance of their manner of driving/riding that: 

  • They have no intention of stopping for the police, and 
  • The police driver believes that the driver of the subject vehicle is aware of the requirement to stop and decides to continue behind the subject vehicle with a view to either reporting its progress or stopping it. 

When a situation falls within the definition of a pursuit, officers need to decide whether a pursuit is justified, proportionate and conforms to the principle of least intrusion. Pursuits may be spontaneous or part of pre-planned operations. 

A 'pursuit' can be divided into two phases – the 'Initial' and 'Tactical':

  • The Initial Phase will begin as soon as a driver fails to stop for police or flees on sight of the patrol vehicle.
  • The Tactical Phase may be declared once a tactically trained Pursuit Commander is identified, and where appropriate resolution tactics are available. When the pursuit moves into the tactical phase, options to bring the pursuit to a safe conclusion will be decided by the Pursuit Commander.

Pursuits will only be undertaken by officers who have undertaken relevant pursuit training. Pursuit trained standard response drivers in suitable vehicles may be authorised to continue the pursuit, but they have no authority to take part in a tactical resolution. The tactical phase will only be undertaken by tactically trained advanced drivers in suitable vehicles.

If a collision involving a police vehicle or vehicle being pursued causes death or serious injury, Northumbria Police will refer the matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).


GROUPS AFFECTED: All Police Officers


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