Fleet News

Poor judgement leads to police chase deaths

POOR risk assessment and unnecessary chases by police drivers are to blame for a fivefold increase in deaths during police pursuits in the past four years, an independent study claims.

The study, titled 'Fatal Pursuit', investigated 85 collisions involving police pursuits between 1998 and 2001, resulting in 91 fatalities. It was led by Dr David Best, head of research at the Police Complaints Authority (PCA).

There were 44 deaths involving police pursuits in the year to March, against nine in 1998. While the majority of deaths occurred in 30mph zones in built-up areas, more than half of those killed had been drink driving and a quarter had taken drugs.

It concluded that officers were making poor judgements during chases, and that control room staff should have greater involvement in making decisions, with all police cars fitted with hands free kits to allow this. Drivers who do not adequately communicate risk should be disciplined, Best added.

Sir Alastair Graham, chairman of the PCA, said: 'I am most concerned that the numbers of fatalities have continued to grow and there is no sign of them levelling off. 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 last only a few minutes but police crews and control rooms must still evaluate the risks involved.'

The report also recommended that communication between officers in the cars is not satisfactory, and should lead to more specialised pursuit commentary training, and unmarked cars should be 'expressly prohibited' from joining in chases.

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