The NSW Police Force is planning to spend an extra $20,000 a vehicle to buy souped-up highway patrol cars, after a decade in which at least 16 people have been killed and more than 450 injured as a result of police pursuits.
Police are evaluating the Holden Special Vehicle Clubsport sedan, which has a 6.2 litre V8 engine. The car offers triple the power of the average small car and is 20 per cent more powerful than standard highway patrol cars.
The move has been criticised by the Greens MP David Shoebridge.
"Instead of looking to safe, tried and true methods of reducing police chases and injuries, the NSW force is commissioning expensive high-speed vehicles to muscle-up,'' he said. ''It makes no sense. It encourages [pursuits] on both sides. It encourages hoons to take them on and it encourages police to engage in the chase.''
The car costs $20,000 more than the standard SS Commodore used by most highway patrol officers. Initial plans are for two of the vehicles to replace less powerful Ford Performance Vehicles' turbocharged Falcons late next year.
The Clubsport can accelerate from 0 to 100km/h in a claimed 5.1 seconds - more than half a second quicker than the SS Commodore.
Assistant Commissioner John Hartley confirmed that at least one of the cars had undergone testing.
Parliamentary records show police are involved in about 30 pursuits each week in NSW.
Mr Shoebridge said authorities should review the pursuit policy rather than get faster cars.
Mr Hartley defended the decision, saying the HSVs would also be used to engage the public at events and car shows.
with David McCowen and Matt Campbell