Forces urged to review speed risks around training exercises following fatal crash

Police forces are being urged to adopt “a more collaborative approach” to assessing the risks involved in training exercises with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) following a fatal incident involving an officer from Thames Valley Police (TVP).

Feb 13, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Gladys Goodwin and PC James Dixon died in a crash in December 2017

The recommendation is the result of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into the death of TVP motorcyclist Police Constable James Dixon who died in a collision on the A4 near Wargrave, Berkshire, in December 2017.

PC Dixon, who had appeared on SKY TV’s Road Wars, was riding an unmarked motorcycle and travelling at speeds of up to 97mph as part of an exercise to teach surveillance techniques to HMRC personnel.

His motorcycle crashed into the passenger side of a car driven by Agne Jasulaitiene, killing Gladys Goodwin, 91, who was also in the vehicle at the time.

Last month Ms Jasulaitiene was cleared of two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

The IOPC investigation looked at the planning and preparation for the training exercise and how it was carried out prior to the collision. It also examined the driving of PC Dixon to determine whether this may have contributed to the crash.

The investigation identified an apparent confusion around police exemptions regarding speed being applied by officers but found “no indication any police officer behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or had committed a criminal offence”.

The IOPC suggests all those involved in training exercises need to have a common understanding of the parameters that impact on risk assessments and safety and 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 added: “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.”

Thames Valley Police has agreed to review its guidance for officers on training exercises, the IOPC said, and Ms Green will meet to discuss “organisational learning” with the force and HMRC.

A TVP spokesperson said: “As is right and proper, evaluation of this incident has been ongoing and any way to improve risk assessments and current policies, despite actions on the day being in line with them, have been established and are welcomed to improve the safety of our officers and staff, our partners and the wider community.”

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