Police force BANS officers from car chases ‘for safety reasons’

January 2, 2014 | by | 0 Comments
Marek Wojciechowski, the Polish cab driver involved in a car crash which climed four lives

Marek Wojciechowski, the Polish cab driver involved in a car crash which climed four lives

A police force has barred most of its officers from car chases after it was criticised over a horror smash which wiped out a young family.

Devon and Cornwall Police says only elite response drivers specially trained in Tactical Pursuit And Containment (TPAC) will be authorised to tail crooks.

Previously any officer trained to national driving standards could pursue a vehicle so long as they called for specialist back-up.

But following an internal review, the force announced it will “limit the pursuit tactic to those trained to the highest level”.

The new policy comes after Devon and Cornwall Police was criticised for the way one of their officers chased after a suicidal cab driver.

Marek Wojciechowski, 26, left a four-page suicide note after splitting up with his wife and got behind the wheel of his Vauxhall Vectra.

He then “deliberately” ploughed head-on into the path of a VW Golf containing Con Twomey, 39, his pregnant wife Elber, 36, and their 16-month-old son Oisin.

Oisin was killed immediately, Elber survived but lost her unborn daughter and her husband suffered serious brain injuries and died ten months later.

Police had been alerted by Wojciechowski’s wife and they started following him with their blue lights and siren on.

However Wojciechowski responded by speeding away and crashing into the family.

An inquest heard response driver PC Ben Bickford followed national guidelines and cleared him of any blame – however surviving Elber blamed police for “a lack of caution”.

Coroner for Plymouth, Torbay and South Devon, Ian Arrow said he planned to write to the Association of Chief Police Officers to ask for a review of national police pursuit policy.

Devon and Cornwall Police said the the revamped guidelines were prompted by a need to ensure public safety and were unrelated to the July 2012 accident.

A spokesman said: “This is to reduce the risk associated with pursuits and to ensure we keep public safety as our highest priority.”

The number of TPAC officers who take part in pursuits will be increased and they will use “higher performance vehicles”, the spokesman added.

According to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), a police driver is considered to be “in pursuit” if the person knows they want them to stop but keeps on driving.

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