New figures from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) have highlighted a ‘sharp increase’ in the number of vehicle pursuit-related deaths for the year ending March 2017.
Published yesterday (25 July), the IPCC figures show that there were 32 road traffic fatalities over the 12-month period, an increase of 11 on the previous year. The figure is also the highest recorded in the last eight years.
28 of the deaths were from police pursuit-related incidents, more than double the figure for the year ending March 2016 – and the highest for 11 years.
The IPCC says the rise in pursuit-related deaths is ‘noticeable’, while Brake describes it as ‘deeply worrying’. The road safety charity is also calling on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) to urgently review pursuit procedures.
The new IPCC figures show that none of the pursuit-related deaths were in response to emergencies. Two-thirds of the people killed were passengers, bystanders or other road users, and all but two incidents involved cars.
Dame Anne Owers, chair of the IPCC, said: “Pursuits are dynamic and fast-moving events, and there are authorised procedures to ensure that they are as safe as possible.
“When we investigate, we examine whether those procedures have been followed, taking account of known risks. In most of the incidents investigated, this was the case.
“However, given the rise in fatalities, we will be working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council to look at the causes and whether any changes to police pursuit safety or training are needed.”
Jason Wakeford, spokesman for Brake, said: "The sharp increase in pursuit-related deaths is deeply worrying and underlines the fact that police chases, often at excessive speed, are incredibly dangerous.
“We are particularly concerned to learn that none of these deaths were in response to emergencies and two-thirds of the people who died were passengers, bystanders or other road users.
“It simply cannot be worth risking innocent lives by engaging in perilous chases when trying to secure an arrest. The National Police Chiefs’ Council must urgently review pursuit procedures in light of these very troubling figures."