Police injure many in routine patrols

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One-fifth of the people killed and nearly one-third of those seriously injured by a police vehicle happen during routine patrols and not in an emergency, a new study has found.

The report on nearly 770 deaths and injuries resulting from by police vehicle accidents also found that in nearly one-fifth of the cases the car did not have any emergency sirens or lights operating.

In addition, the Home Office study said that there was some "cause for concern" that 15 per cent of the incidents involved police officers with only basic driver skills. There was also criticism of the lack of an agreed training scheme for police drivers in England and Wales.

The report was commissioned amid growing concern, include some expressed by the Police Complaints Authority, at the number of accidents involving police vehicles.

In the year up to April, 31 people, including police officers, were killed, one more than the previous year. Only last month a 20 year old female pedestrian died after an accident in Croydon, south London, involving a marked police car which was responding to an emergency call.

An examination of accidents in between 1990 and 1993 found that there were 92 deaths and 1,025 serious injuries. Of the deaths, about 40 per cent occurred during pursuits and about one-fifth while on a response to an emergency call or on routine patrol.

Police chiefs said they had addressed many of the recommendations of the study, including national guidelines, and were breathalysing all parties involved following any incident.

"Only advanced and standard police drivers, who have received pursuit training should take part in pursuits," said a statement from the Association of Chief Police Officers.

- Jason Bennetto,

`A Study of Deaths and Serious Injuries Resulting from Police Vehicle Accidents'; available from the Home Office, Police Research Group, 0171- 273 3133.