In December 2008, West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose expressed concerns regarding high speed driving undertaken by the police and the fact that over 200 deaths have occurred since 2002 during high speed police driving.
The Coroner had ruled that Christopher Mollan’s death on the morning of 9th June 2008 was accidental and a police officer was not at fault. The late Mr Mollan had pulled onto the A39 near Bridgwater from a country road. The police officer’s BMW collided with the late Mr Mollan’s Nissan at a speed between 52 mph and 78 mph. The police officers were racing to a report of a firearm being seen. The Coroner accepted that often the police officers were not at fault but questioned whether high speed police driving should be limited to responding to terrorist activities, scenes where weapons were present and drink drive cases where the driver could cause a fatality. He went onto question whether high speed police driving in other circumstances was necessary and recognised that it presented a grave public danger.
As a result, the Coroner wrote to the Association of Chief Police Officers and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. He recommended that police officers should have to obtain the authority of a Police Inspector in circumstances where it is unclear whether or not a possible offence necessitated high speed police driving. He also recommended the use of ‘black boxes’ in police vehicles to record their speed.
We will have to wait and see the reaction of the Association of Chief Police Officers. However, the sheer number of people dying during high speed police driving must demand action to be taken.