Inquiry urged into police driving

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The Independent Online
A review of police driver training was demanded yesterday after a nurse was killed by a patrol car which hit her stationary vehicle during a high- speed mock chase. But the officer driving the police car, which rounded a bend on a 60mph road at around 100mph, will not face disciplinary action.

Judith Hood, a 27-year-old orthopaedic nurse of Stevenage, Hertfordshire, died in June last year when a police vehicle rammed into the back of her Citroen AX as it stood at temporary traffic lights on the A10 at Harston, Cambridgeshire.

Caroline Mitchell, of the Police Complaints Authority, said yesterday that the two police cars travelled at "indefensible speeds on public roads".

The driver of the first or "bandit" vehicle, Constable Gerard Sharratt, was fined pounds 750 for careless driving and banned from driving for six months in July. He will not face disciplinary proceedings because under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act an officer convicted of a criminal offence cannot face disciplinary proceedings on the same facts. However, the PCA said the second officer, an unnamed driving instructor from the Metropolitan Police, who was in the following vehicle, should be admonished for failing to follow guidelines on pursuit driving and training.

Ms Mitchell, announcing the PCA's decision on disciplinary action, said: "These two police cars were travelling at indefensible speeds on public roads. Public safety is paramount and police officers should always drive so that they can stop safely. It is sometimes better for a pursuit to be abandoned ...

"I have discussed this tragic incident with the Home Office and it will be considered by the Association of Chief Police Officers' traffic committee. Such a dreadful accident must not be allowed to happen again. Lessons must be learnt." She added: "I will be recommending that instructors should make enquiries about any road works ... before training on public roads."

PC Sharratt was a senior instructor at the Metropolitan Police's driving school in Hendon, north London. He remains suspended from driving duties.

Scotland Yard said that it wanted to take the opportunity to repeat its condolences to Ms Hood's family for a deeply regrettable tragedy.

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