Fleet News

Police get guidance on work-related accidents

GUIDELINES for the police on how to prosecute managers and companies failing in their duty of care to drivers are set out for the first time in a manual from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The 200-page Road Death Investigation Manual posted on ACPO's website details what officers are to do if they suspect the crash is work-related, liaison procedure with the Health and Safety Executive, and includes a call for deaths on the road to be treated in the same way as homicides. In his foreword, North Wales Police chief constable Richard Brunstrom said: 'The manual provides practitioners at all levels with guidance, sound advice and safeguards to ensure that every life lost on our roads is investigated thoroughly and effectively.

'It is based on our perception that there are very few 'accidents' on our roads and that most are caused by human error.

'There is a recognition nowadays that in many circumstances the investigation of a road death is equivalent in complexity to that of homicide – indeed many road deaths should be treated by police as homicides.'

The guide's initial procedure states: 'A police detective of supervisory rank should attend the scene of a work-related death, or where there is a strong likelihood of death arising out of, or in connection with, work and should make an initial assessment about whether the circumstances might justify a charge of manslaughter, or other serious criminal offence, in which case the police will commence their investigation.'

On corporate liability, it adds: 'The investigation of corporate liability...will include any organisation where there exists an employer/employee relationship and where a duty of care is owed.'

Extracts from the ACPO Road Death Investigation Manual, available at www.acpo.police.uk

Initial Procedure

A police detective of supervisory rank should attend the scene of a work related death, or where there is a strong likelihood of death arising out of or in connection with work and should:
a) make an initial assessment about whether the circumstances might justify a charge of manslaughter, or other serious criminal offence, in which case the police will commence their investigation
b) where the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is the enforcing authority confirm whether the employer, or other responsible person (e.g. the person in control of the premises at which the incident occurred) has notified the death or injury to the HSE by the quickest practicable means
c) liaise with the HSE inspector, or HSE duty officer if out of hours and either

i) inform the HSE of the police decision to investigate
ii) where the initial assessment indicates that there will be no police investigation, discuss arrangements for preserving the scene and the nature of assistance that the police are able to provide to the HSE investigation.

Investigation

Police investigation

2.1 As a general guide, the police will investigate where there is evidence or a suspicion of deliberate gross negligence or recklessness on the part of an individual or company rather than human error or carelessness
2.2 The HSE will provide any agreed technical support to the police, and continue to investigate matter relating to possible offences under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. The HSE will not lay an information until the police and Crown Prosecution Service have reached a prosecution decision.
2.3 The police and HSE will liaise and agree arrangements for keeping relatives informed, dealing with media enquiries and making any public announcements.

HSE investigation

2.4 Where the police decide that a charge of manslaughter, or any other serious offence, cannot be justified the HSE will continue with its own investigation.

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