Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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Risk assessment processes for officers on joint training exercises reviewed following independent investigation

Risk assessments and guidance for officers on training exercises have been reviewed by Thames Valley Police (TVP) and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) following our independent investigation into a collision in which Gladys Goodwin and PC James Dixon died.

We examined the circumstances surrounding the collision in which TVP motorcyclist PC Dixon, who was on a HMRC training exercise, and Mrs Goodwin died in December 2017.

Our investigation, which concluded in November 2018, examined the planning and preparation for the training exercise and how it was carried out prior to the collision on the A4 near Twyford on 5 December 2017.

We also looked into the driving of PC Dixon and whether this may have contributed to the collision.

As a result of our investigation both TVP and HMRC agreed to review their guidance for officers on training exercises. 

We identified an apparent confusion around police exemptions regarding speed being applied by officers. All those involved in training exercises need to have a common understanding of the parameters that impact on risk assessments and safety. We also concluded that any future training exercises may benefit from a more collaborative approach to risk assessments being taken between HMRC and the assisting force.

IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green said:

“Following the conclusion of the recent criminal trial, I extend my condolences to the families and everyone affected by the death of Gladys Goodwin and PC James Dixon.

“At the end our investigation we provided our findings to TVP and HMRC and offered to arrange a debrief to discuss organisational learning which needed to be addressed by the agencies involved in this training exercise. This was delayed until the conclusion of the criminal trial. Now all proceedings have concluded we will go ahead with arranging this.

“We found that although the training exercise PC Dixon was taking part in did adhere to policy and procedures, improvements could be made to ensure all officers are aware of when speed exemptions are applicable or not.”

During our investigation we obtained more than 40 witness statements from police officers, HMRC officers and members of the public.

Our investigation found no indication any police officer behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or had committed a criminal offence.

Evidence gathered by our investigator suggested that the risk assessments were carried out in line with policy although the force agreed to review joint risk assessments.

The driver of the car in which Mrs Goodwin was a passenger was acquitted of two counts of causing death by careless driving following a trial at Reading Crown Court on 21 January 2020.

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