Posted: Friday 16 November 2012

Complaints follow tractor collision in Tayside

A man, who required hospital treatment after the car he was driving collided with a tractor, could have his case reconsidered by Tayside Police, following a report by the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland.

In the report published today (16 November 2012) the Commissioner, Professor John McNeill, found that Tayside Police's response to a complaint from the driver, that they had not carried out an investigation into the incident, did not reflect the terms of their own Policy and Guidance on Road Traffic Collision Reporting.

According to the Commissioner, Tayside Police misrepresented its policy in its response to the man when it told him that only where there is evidence of dangerous or careless driving or a very serious injury or fatality would a protracted enquiry to apportion blame be undertaken. In this case officers at the scene had concluded that the collision had occurred due to an absence of road markings and the narrowness of the carriageway and that blame could not be attributed to either party.

At this point the driver of the car, who is not named in the report, approached the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland. As part of his review the Commissioner examined Tayside Police's policy which indicated that protracted enquiry will be undertaken in cases where personal injury has been sustained.

Furthermore the Commissioner's report, known as a complaint handling review, established that no statement had been taken from a passenger in the vehicle, referred to only as Ms G in the report. Her recollection of the cause of the collision made her potentially a key witness and her account was important to any assessment of whether the circumstances should be reported to the Procurator Fiscal.

As a result, Professor McNeill has recommended that Tayside Police now seeks a statement from Ms G and, depending on that statement, that it reconsiders its decision  that a protracted enquiry was not necessary in terms of its current policy.  He goes on to say that if Tayside Police considers it appropriate to depart from the policy, it should explain clearly to the applicant the reasons for this.

The Commissioner dismissed a further complaint from the man that he had not been breathalysed at the time of the incident because Tayside Police had already apologised and acknowledged that he should have been breath-tested either prior to or following his transportation to hospital.

Professor McNeill said:

"There was clearly a disconnect between what the policy states should trigger a protracted enquiry and what happened in this case. I hope that Tayside Police will follow my recommendations and ensure that lessons are learned as a result of the complaint and my subsequent review of the way it was handled."

Read the full report.

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