All entries for Monday 20 March 2006

March 20, 2006

999 call death

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Blink, and you might have missed it…
I has intrigued me that this story – about a 25-year-old man who was killed when hit by a police car responding to a 999 call on Saturday evening – has not received more media attention: less than two column inches in this morning's Times. With the furore that surrounded the death of PC Sharon Beshenivsky I would have expected more attention to be paid to deaths associated with the police (although obviously the roles were reversed in this instance). How much influence do the police have on the media?

Several years ago this incident happened, where a man was hit and killed by a getaway car being persued by the police. The man's partner has been awarded £345,000 compensation, though it has not been revealed how much of this money is coming from the police and how much from the Motor Insurers Bureau. In this case, why should the police have been required to pay compensation (if, indeed they have) as they were not the offending vehicle? Granted, the reason the getaway car was on the run was as a result of police persuit, but equally they wouldn't have had to persue had it not been for those in the getaway car committing a crime and then trying to avoid capture.

How much care should police take to avoid these potential tragedies? If each car responding to a 999 call drove slower, there is a good chance that more deaths would result at the crime scenes they are rushing to get to. But does this justify the occasional deaths of utterly innocent bystanders?

Was the police officer driving the car acting in a negligent way? How do you define negligence when the usual rules of the road do not apply? I have observed a couple of instances recently where road-users have seemingly ignored the presence of emergency vehicles, and even tried to beat them across junctions in order to avoid being delayed in their own journeys. Do these motorists transfer the responsibility to themselves in the case of an accident?

March 2006

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