Police road deaths hit 10-year high

13.33 | 5 September 2019 | | 7 comments

The number of people killed as a result of road collisions involving police vehicles has reached the highest level for at least a decade, new figures show.

Statistics from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) show there were 42 police related road deaths in England and Wales during 2018/19 – 13 more than the year before.

Nearly three quarters (30) were as a result of police pursuit-related incidents – of which 20 were either the driver or passenger in the pursued vehicle.

A further 10 were in an unrelated vehicle or were a pedestrian hit by the car being pursued.

Five deaths came from emergency response incidents.

The IOPC, which investigates incidents and allegations involving the police, says police officers should take into account the risks to the public when undertaking a pursuit.

Michael Lockwood, IOPC director general, said: “The increase in pursuit-related deaths this year points to a continued need for ongoing scrutiny of this area of policing. 

“Police drivers need to be able to pursue suspects and respond quickly to emergency calls as part of their duty, but it’s not without risk. 

“This includes risks not only for the police and the driver of any pursued vehicle, but for passengers, bystanders and other road users. 

“Pursued drivers bear responsibility for their own actions but police officers should also take into account risks to the public and only undertake a pursuit where it is safe to do so, and where authorised.”



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    I recently saw, not the police, but an ambulance on an emergency run in an urban area, go through a red light at a puffin crossing with blue lights on – but no siren. There was a lady pedestrian crossing on the green man signal, who was not aware of the approaching ambulance which was not exactly going slowly. Being ‘highly trained’ is all very well, but it has to be put into practice.

    Hugh Jones
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

    Regular readers would know my opinion on both speed and police chases – this recently published article from Manchester completely takes the biscuit though.


    I must admit, both parties showed a fair amount of “clean driving” but there becomes a point where one must realise that it’s not exactly best practice to continue with a pursuit if say, you’re having to proceed through a residential area at 130mph in order to just KEEP UP with the vehicle you’re chasing.

    Especially after proceeding over speed cushions and speed humps at speeds approaching 100mph – how would this not affect the integrity of any vehicle?!

    I believe that if a hapless bystander got entangled in that, we would definitely be looking at multiple fatalities. The police really do need to calm down.

    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)

    Just adding to my bit below. I am told that down here in Somerset one of the reasons that PCSOs drive marked vehicles is because of the shortage of proper police officers; that it gives the illusion (as it were) of presence to the general public. I am not sure what (driver) training they have but would have thought it was negligible and their standard is probably bordering on that of the standard driving test and given that most who have done no more than the standard driving test would probably fail it if spot tested today you can take what you like from that. Certainly, what I have seen of PCSOs driving marked vehicles I am not at all impressed.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton
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    Peter Whitfield, there is a specific offence:

    Road Traffic Act 1988 Section 163: Power of Police to Stop Vehicles

    A person driving a vehicle on a road must stop the vehicle on being required to do so by a constable in uniform.

    If a person fails to comply with this he is guilty of an offence.

    Sadly, only punishable by a fine though.

    Saul Jeavons
    Agree (6) | Disagree (2)


    I understand where Hugh is coming from but, the real issue is the general standard of police driving which, in my view has fallen a lot over the years, partly due to increasing financial restraints on the training side and the loss of proper police driving schools in favour of force driver training units has also to be a general contributor. In the late 1990s a former Hendon Advanced Wing Instructor said to things to me (1) That looking at the general standard of police driving [even then] he was embarrassed to say he was ever a police driving instructor and (2) that in his estimation the increasing number of police vehicle crashes and any resultant successful court actions was going to prove more expensive than training to the hightest standard in the first place, let alone the loss in credibility in the public eyes of police driving standards. Unfortunately, what we seeto day is, in my view, an evolution of that scenario. So you are half right, Hugh, but it did not need to be that way.

    On Peter’s comments, yes, I do agree that it is pretty horrendous that some of the stuff you see on cop shows is actually allowed into the public domain. Unfortunately, that just seems to be the accepted standard nowadays, in a way as per my comments in the previous paragraph. Very sad indeed also that the police are no longer seen as the banner and example of the best standard of driving on the roads.

    Nigel ALBRIGHT, Taunton
    Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

    It’s no surprise that the police, when driving at high speeds are involved in collisions. I shudder when I see their antics on UK TV cop shows and as Peter intimated, it sets a bad example. The police are not superhuman and the laws of physics still apply and driving at very high speeds provides nil margin for safety.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (6) | Disagree (3)

    Its curious that the annual reports only report deaths. This is inconsistent with all other road related injury databases and may hinder the better understanding of the issues.

    The report would benefit from declaring the number of pursuits and hence we could then work out whether the rate (rather than absolute value) is changing. I suspect that lawlessness is increasing and that members of the public are more prone to not stopping when instructed. There is no separate offence for not stopping – perhaps there should be. Perhaps we should also stop showing police videos on TV that tend to normalise dangerous driving as entertainment.

    Peter Whitfield, Liverpool
    Agree (6) | Disagree (2)

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