Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
Police review training following death of teenager in County Durham
An investigation into the actions of the police prior to the death of Dillon Turner in County Durham on 14 June 2016 resulted in North Yorkshire Police (NYP) reviewing its training for officers and staff when dealing with cross-border pursuits.
Mr Turner, 19, was riding a stolen red Honda quad bike that had been pursued by officers from NYP, when shortly after 3pm, he collided with a lamp post at Ingleton, County Durham. Mr Turner was taken by air ambulance to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where sadly he died. Recently (22 February 2019), an inquest recorded a narrative verdict .
We looked at the actions of both Durham Constabulary and NYP on the day of Mr Turner’s death. We did not find that any of the officers or staff involved behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings. However, we made recommendations to NYP to help them improve how officers communicate with one another during similar incidents. Durham Constabulary has also reviewed and updated its training in relation to cross-border communications.
At around 7.50am on 14 June 2016, the quad bike was reported stolen from the Keld area of North Yorkshire. It was located in woodland near the village of Arkengarthdale. NYP officers put in place an operation to arrest the suspects when they returned to recover it.
At approximately 2.35pm, a Mitsubishi pick-up truck containing three people, including Mr Turner, arrived to recover the quad bike. The pick-up and the quad bike, ridden by Mr Turner, left the scene and were kept under observation by an unmarked police van. NYP traffic police successfully stopped the pick-up at around 2.50pm and arrested its two occupants. However, while en route to the A66, a road commonly used by suspects to cross into County Durham, the officers in the van lost sight of the bike.
A couple of minutes later, the NYP officers in the van saw the quad bike travelling along a minor road near to the A66. The use of a police helicopter had been authorised by NYP and, from around 2.58pm, it had the bike on camera. NYP traffic police unsuccessfully deployed a stinger (tyre deflation device) at round 3pm to try to prevent a pursuit developing. As Mr Turner headed towards its force area, Durham Constabulary was informed of the incident.
During the pursuit, significant issues were experienced with the communication channels, meaning not all of the police vehicles involved were on the same radio channel. This caused some NYP vehicles to lose sight of Mr Turner and resulted in Durham Constabulary not having full situational awareness of the pursuit. The issues were eventually resolved by patching in the two radio channels.
The helicopter cameras show that, as Mr Turner rode through the village of Ingleton, he saw a Durham police car approaching him from the opposite direction. At 3.09pm, in an attempt to evade the police car, Mr Turner lost control of the quad bike, clipping a Citroen Xsara before colliding with a lamp post. It is estimated that at the time of the collision the quad bike was travelling at 52mph on a 30mph road.
During our investigation we examined all video footage from this incident, including CCTV, dashcam, and the police helicopter. We also analysed all airwave transmissions and reviewed national and local police policies in relation to pursuits and inter-force communications.
All officers and staff were treated as witnesses throughout our investigation which we completed in February 2017. We requested that the NYP officers involved be interviewed, however most of the officers chose to answer our questions in writing instead. In total we received written statements from 21 police officers and staff.
IOPC Regional Director Miranda Biddle recently said:
“Whenever someone’s life is lost in such circumstances it is very sad, and our thoughts remain with Mr Turner’s family and friends, and all those affected by the events of that day. We carried out a very thorough investigation into the actions of both police forces leading up to Mr Turner’s death and didn’t find any issues concerning the conduct of those involved.
“I’m pleased that North Yorkshire Police has been proactive in learning from this incident, to help avoid any repeat of the communications issues we identified. This learning is especially important for a police force that relies on cross-border collaboration with other forces. Durham has also been proactive in responding to the incident, by reviewing its own training and practices for cross border pursuits.”
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