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Police delay in responding to fatal hit and run near Benneydale

11 June 2024

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police failed to respond appropriately to an emergency call reporting that a pedestrian had been hit by a car near Benneydale.

At about 3am on 24 January 2023 a man was walking along a dark rural road when he was hit by a car heading towards Benneydale. The man was killed instantly. The driver of the car failed to stop and drove to his mother’s address in Benneydale where he told her what had happened.

The mother drove along the highway in search of the crash scene but was unable to find it. She then called Police emergency to advise what had happened. During this call she explained that her son was not sure if he had hit a person or an animal.

The call was taken by a call taker located in the Southern Emergency Call Centre who recorded the details and coded the job for dispatch. The job was then tasked to the duty night shift sergeant in western Waikato who discussed it with the night shift senior sergeant.

For a number of reasons, including that the driver’s mother had already searched the area; the possibility the driver could have hit an animal, and the availability of resources, a decision was made to delay Police attendance until morning.

When a Police officer travelled to Benneydale in the morning, he found the man deceased in a verge on the side of the road. The man’s family later complained about the officers’ decision to delay Police attendance, fearing that he may have been laying injured on the side of the road.

The Authority’s independent investigation explored the actions of Police including their handling of the emergency call and the decision to delay Police attendance.

The Authority found that the call taker should have afforded the job a higher priority, although she was not responsible for the decision to delay the response. That decision was made and agreed by the night shift sergeants who reviewed the job details. We found that they should have dispatched a car to Benneydale on receipt of the emergency call rather than waiting until morning, and that decision was an error in judgment.

Public Report 
Police delay in responding to fatal hit and run (PDP 407 KB)
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