Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Devon and Cornwall police officer given final written warning following 2020 pursuit in Torquay

A Devon and Cornwall police officer who intentionally steered an unmarked police vehicle into the path of a suspect car during a police pursuit has been given a final written warning at a gross misconduct hearing.

A police disciplinary panel in Exeter, organised by the force and headed by an independent, legally qualified chair, found that PC Darren Greene breached the standards of professional behaviour relating to use of force, and duties and responsibilities.

The panel took into consideration mitigating factors as well as the serious consequences of the officer’s decision in imposing the outcome on PC Greene after the hearing on 10 December.

This hearing followed a referral from the force, and an investigation carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into the pursuit in Torquay in January 2020.

The spontaneous pursuit was initiated just after midnight on 3 January 2020, after a traffic officer in a marked police car saw a Vauxhall Astra being driven at speeds of up to 70mph in a 30mph zone in the Barton and Hele area of Torquay. The Astra subsequently failed to stop. The pursuit lasted approximately three minutes, during which time the pursuit commander in the marked police car gave a clear commentary to the force control room and began to co-ordinate options for bringing the pursuit to an end.

PC Greene’s evidence at the hearing confirmed that he intentionally steered his unmarked armed response police SUV into the path of the Astra to bring the pursuit to an end, causing a collision with the pursued vehicle.

The passenger in the Astra, a 20-year-old man from Torquay, sustained serious injuries. The driver, a 19-year-old man also from Torquay, was also injured.

IOPC investigators conducted house-to-house enquiries, obtained witness accounts, reviewed body worn footage, in-vehicle footage, police radio transmissions and police logs, and examined policy and guidance documents relating to police pursuits and tactical contact. The IOPC also considered evidence from a collision investigator, as well as forensic vehicle examiners.

The panel heard evidence that PC Greene activated his blue lights only three seconds before the collision, and steered the police SUV almost fully into the opposing lane less than one second before impact, denying the Astra driver sufficient time to react.

David Ford, Regional Director for the IOPC said: “This was a dynamic and distressing incident for all involved, which resulted in serious injury to the passenger in the pursued vehicle.

“Our investigation, completed in November last year, concluded that the officer had a case to answer for alleged excessive use of force in making tactical contact. The disciplinary panel has now found that in the circumstances this use of force, resulting in serious injury, amounted to gross misconduct.

“Emergency response drivers are under significant pressure to respond to ongoing incidents in a timely way to protect life, prevent or detect crime, or to apprehend an offender. It is vital, though, that police pursuits are undertaken in a safe manner, and that any use of force or tactical contact is reasonable, proportionate, and necessary.”

The driver of the Vauxhall Astra admitted dangerous driving when he appeared at Exeter Crown Court in October this year.

Channel website: https://policeconduct.gov.uk/

Original article link: https://policeconduct.gov.uk/news/devon-and-cornwall-police-officer-given-final-written-warning-following-2020-pursuit-torquay

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