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REPORT CALLS FOR BETTER CONTROL AND MANAGEMENT OF POLICE PURSUITS TO REDUCE DEATHS AND INJURIES

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'Too many people have died as a result of crashes following police ...
'Too many people have died as a result of crashes following police

pursuits. We must make every effort to minimise the risk of

collision, injury or death in these circumstances,' said Alistair

Graham, chairman of the independent Police Complaints Authority,

today when he presented 'Fatal Pursuit', the PCA research report into

fatal road traffic incidents arising out of police pursuits.

'I am most concerned that the numbers of fatalities have continued to

grow and there is no sign of them levelling off - if anything, the

latest figures show the rate is accelerating. Although this study

represents a very small sample against the overall numbers of

pursuit/follows, the conclusions are nevertheless relevant to all

similar circumstances and this research will be useful in showing a

way forward. The present situation cannot be allowed to continue and

a positive effort must be made to manage these events properly. We

appreciate that many of these pursuits only last a few minutes but

police crews and control rooms must still evaluate the risks

involved.' he said.

The PCA research report 'Fatal Pursuit' investigated 85 cases of road

traffic collisions involving police pursuits between 1998 - 2001

which resulted in 91 fatalities. The main conclusions were:

* The police made inadequate risk assessments during a

follow/pursuit and this resulted in inappropriate or badly judged

decisions. Police control room managers should have greater

involvement and should take control of the pursuit/follow.

* Communications between the officers who are in the police car

during the follow/pursuit is not satisfactory. Specialist training

in pursuit commentary is required particularly for police

passengers.

* Unmarked police cars (ie not fitted with concealed warning

equipment) and convoys of police vehicles are not acceptable for

use in a follow/pursuit and should be explicitly prohibited.

* The current distinction made by police officers between

'pursuits' and 'follows' should be discontinued with immediate

effect. In the study no behavioural differences could be identified

between the events characterised in this way.

* Officers should not engage in pursuit/follows without a clear,

centrally agreed strategy for attempting to stop the fleeing

vehicle safely. There should be central control and management of

incidents and police officers' discretion to pursue/follow should

be reduced.

Conclusion

A key conclusion is that the police engage in too many pursuits that

endanger public safety and the most effective way to reduce this is

by increased management control and reduced officer discretion. It is

recognised that many such incidents are of short duration, typically

two to three minutes, making external intervention problematic.

Forces may need to consider whether officers who pursue without

control room permission, or who fail to adequately communicate risk,

or who fail to pull over when instructed to call off a chase by the

control room, should be at risk of being disciplined as a result.

Background

'Fatal Pursuit' examined a total of 85 cases involving 91 fatalities

although 12 incidents only involved serious injuries. Most were on

quiet or almost deserted roads often on 30mph roads in towns and many

took place on Saturday or Sunday nights. The majority were classified

as pursuit/follows and the rest were emergency responses, standard

patrol incidents and officers coming off duty. In the

pursuit/follows, the speeds were higher and although the police

drivers typically had more years driving experience, they resulted in

a higher number of fatalities.

FATAL PURSUIT. Investigation of Road Traffic Incidents (RTIs)

involving police vehicles, 1998 - 2001: Identifying common factors

and the lessons to be learned.

ISBN 0-9533157-8-9

Price: £5

Police Complaints Authority Research Report

The report will be available on the PCA website: www.pca.gov.uk

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