Policies and procedures were adhered to by Thames Valley Police prior to a triple fatal collision on the M40

16 Jul 2019 12:30 PM

An independent investigation by the IOPC has concluded that Thames Valley Police (TVP) followed appropriate policies and procedures when handling a report concerning a driver’s ability five days before a triple fatal collision on the M40 last year.

We concluded our investigation in April 2019 and found that TVP staff acted in accordance with policy and timescales following a collision report made online on 10 October 2018.

The collision report related to a minor incident in High Wycombe in which a Subaru struck a parked car. The drivers exchanged details and the owner of the parked car reported the incident to the police via 999 during which he was advised to submit a report online, which he did the same day. In the report he raised concerns over the Subaru driver’s fitness to drive, stating the other driver appeared to be slow to react.

TVP policy states that a lack of independent evidence means the report could have been closed. However, on 12 October the report was assessed for further review because of the concerns raised over the driver’s ability and was passed to the relevant team.

On 15 October the Subaru, driven by John Norton, was involved in a collision on the M40 in south Oxfordshire in which he, Olive Howard and Stuart Richards died.

Our independent investigation concluded that the call handler graded and handled the 999 call on 10 October appropriately. We also found that TVP acted in accordance with their policies and timescales in assessing the online collision report. We passed our final report to Thames Valley Police in April 2019 and they have agreed with our findings.

Regional director Sarah Green yesterday said:

“This was a terribly tragic incident and my thoughts and deepest sympathies remain with the families and friends of those who died.

“We found that Thames Valley Police handled the initial emergency 999 call and the subsequent collision report appropriately and in line with its policies and procedures. There was no way to predict, from the information the force had, the catastrophic sequence of events that would result in the tragic loss of three lives.”

An inquest held in April 2019 determined that all three died as a result of a road traffic incident.

We have published our findings at the earliest possible opportunity.