The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has recommended West Yorkshire Police improve driver training for officers following an investigation into a fatal collision involving a police vehicle in Leeds.
Donald Bennett was killed when the unattended vehicle struck him as he walked through Pudsey Park, Leeds on June, 1, 2013.
The independent investigation found no case to answer for gross misconduct or misconduct for the driver, PC Claire Bugler. The case was also referred to the Crown Prosecution Service who stated that no criminal charge would be brought against the officer.
PC Bugler had been called to a report of an assault within the grounds, parking her vehicle on an incline. A short time later it rolled forward and collided with Bennett. The 83-year-old died at the scene.
The investigation found that the handbrake had been applied but the vehicle had not been put into gear; something which is advised under the Highway Code, but is not a legal requirement. This, combined with a technical fault, within the braking system, caused the vehicle to roll forward. Evidence showed that the vehicle would have passed all service and MOT checks prior to the collision.
The IPCC found the West Yorkshire Police driver training school does not teach a ‘stopping drill’ to students. As a result, the IPCC has recommended the force implements guidance issued in the Highway Code, which includes the selection of a gear when parking on an incline.
IPCC commissoner Kathryn Stone said: “A number of factors contributed to this incident, culminating in a devastating outcome for Mr Bennett’s family and PC Bugler.
“It is sincerely hoped that this investigation has a direct influence on West Yorkshire Police and, indeed, all police forces to ensure that officers are aware of the Highway Code and reinforce it appropriately.”