Police pursuit ‘appropriate’ prior to death of man at railway station

Metropolitan Police Service officers (MPS) acted “appropriately and in line with driving and pursuit policies” prior to the death of a man at Hounslow railway station in 2021, an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has found.

Mar 15, 2023
By Paul Jacques

Jafur Saker, 32, died on April 20, 2021, when he came into contact with an electrified railway line after he exited the vehicle that was being pursued by officers.

An inquest, which concluded on Friday (March 10), found Mr Saker’s death was caused by misadventure.

The police pursuit began shortly after midnight  when officers attempted to stop a vehicle in Whitton that was suspected of having false numberplates.

These plates were registered to a grey Mercedes vehicle and the suspect vehicle was a black Audi. Mr Saker, who was the sole occupant of the vehicle, failed to stop for police who continued to pursue it.

At approximately 12.15am, Mr Saker exited the Audi before it collided with a metal railing outside the entrance to Hounslow railway station. He ran into the station and jumped down onto the railway tracks where he came into contact with an electrified line and died.

The inquest jury concluded the pursuit was proportionate and that officers complied with pursuit and driving policies.

They noted it was a 15-minute pursuit during which there were a number of opportunities for Mr Saker to stop.

At Hounslow railway station he left the vehicle and ventured onto the tracks, despite the evident danger, and his actions were deliberately undertaken, the jury said.

The IOPC said its investigation, which concluded in September 2021 after the force made a mandatory referral, found there was “no indication any officer involved committed a criminal offence or that they had behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings”.

It added: “We found the officers acted appropriately and in line with local and national driving and pursuit policies when pursuing the vehicle.

“We did, however, find the performance of one officer fell below the expected standard when they made an inappropriate remark after Mr Saker had come into contact with the railway line. We determined this officer should undergo reflective practice in relation to this behaviour.”

The IOPC said it also investigated complaints made by his family, which included the purpose of the pursuit and the time it took for officers to inform them of his death.

“We also found there was an unnecessary delay in when Mr Saker’s family were informed by police of his death and what they were initially told. We determined this was a failing in service, for which the force have apologised,” the IOPC said.

IOPC Director Amanda Rowe said they completed a “thorough investigation” to establish the circumstances surrounding the force’s contact with Mr Saker prior to his death.

She said: “While the pursuit of the vehicle was appropriate in the circumstances, the comments made by an officer at the scene were of concern and have been addressed through the reflective practice process.

“We acknowledge that the force has apologised for the delays in informing Mr Saker’s family about his death, which could only have caused them further distress.”

During its investigation, the IOPC obtained statements from all the officers involved in the pursuit as well as the officers who attended the scene. Statements were also obtained from Network Rail staff and National Police Air Support officers, which was during the pursuit. B

“Body-worn video footage was downloaded and reviewed along with footage and audio recording of the pursuit from the police vehicle involved. At the end of the investigation we shared our findings and final report with Mr Saker’s family and the coroner, who was provided with our evidence to assist with the inquest,” said the IOPC.

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