Nic Brunetti – Police Oracle
A police officer who did not realise that a damaged car had been involved in a collision with a pedestrian failed to carry out her duties, an IPCC investigation has found.
Her conclusion, following an inspection of the vehicle thought to have been involved in a collision near Cheltenham racecourse, “stunned” her special constable colleague the police watchdog said.
It later transpired that the car had collided with a male pedestrian on a rural road who was left lying undiscovered with a number of serious injuries.
He was later found at the bottom of a steep embankment around two-and-a-half hours after the call was made to police. The IPCC said the Gloucestershire Constabulary PC failed to carry out a “diligent” enquiry and missed vital clues.
The officer has since been cleared of gross misconduct at an internal hearing and given “management advice”.
The watchdog added that the force’s control room did not correctly grade the call as an emergency when it came in on March 16 2011.
IPCC Commissioner Rebecca Marsh said: “The IPCC found significant evidence to support its findings that the police constable made serious errors and the public has a right to expect that where an officer performs this poorly that they are properly held to account.
“The IPCC is the investigating body and does not have the power to determine the outcome of a police misconduct hearing. The police misconduct panel decided that the police constable’s actions did not amount to gross misconduct and she was given management advice.”
According to the IPCC report, police had received a call at 7.33pm from a woman motorist who said she believed her car had hit something, or someone, on her return from a visit to Cheltenham Racecourse with her daughter. The car had suffered significant damage and the two had searched the scene before returning home.
The PC decided to attend the road where the alleged incident happened with her special constable colleague. But she had been advised that the location may have been incorrect, and had been advised to call the driver and check.
On a visit to the driver’s house the special constable discovered significant damage to the car, including a partly shattered windscreen and badly damaged nearside door. Trapped in the rubber seal of the windscreen were a number of small blue fibres and another piece of dark blue fabric.
The PC “momentarily stunned” her colleague by removing the fibres with a fingernail, saying they were only paper. She had earlier told the motorist: “It seems like your vehicle has been hit by a traffic cone, we’re going to leave it at that as we have already had a look around the scene”.
After the house visit, the two had returned to the police station at 9pm because the PC had an appointment. But the special later persuaded her to continue their investigation and they drove to the correct scene of the incident with the motorist and her daughter.
The 52-year-old man was found by the special 12 metres from the road with injuries including nine broken ribs, a punctured lung, a broken shoulder bone and a bruised heart.
The volunteer has since received a certificate of merit for his efforts and persistence.
IPCC Commissioner Marsh added: “This poor man suffered terrible injuries and was found when he was because of the persistence of the special constable.
“He has since returned home to Leeds and has made a recovery.
“I understand from the force that the efforts made by this special constable, who volunteers his time on top of a full time job as a senior fire officer, has been acknowledged by the assistant chief constable.
“His diligence and persistence meant the injured man was found alive.”