Sussex Police officers disciplined over unauthorised car chase

Sussex Police. Pic Steve Robards
Sussex Police. Pic Steve Robards

A Sussex Police officer committed gross misconduct when he carried out an unauthorised pursuit, entered a one-way street the wrong way and used his car to hit the fleeing vehicle, a panel has ruled.

PC Adam Williams and PC Daniel Toft were in two unmarked police cars in the St Leonards Warrior Square area at about 12.20pm on February 8, 2018 when they tried to stop a white Skoda as part of a planned operation targeting drug dealing in the area, according to the IOPC (Independent Office for Police Conduct).

A car chase took place involving the two cars driven by the officers, as well as a third unmarked police car, along Hampden Mews, Southwater Road, Hatherley Road, London Road and Warrior Square.

During this pursuit PC Williams used his car to collide with the white Skoda, the IOPC said. A short while later the pursuit ended when the Skoda collided with parked cars in Warrior Square.

The incident was referred to the IOPC in February 2018 and it concluded its investigation in August 2018.

It says it found evidence that PC Williams did not inform force control that he was carrying out a pursuit and therefore did not receive authorisation. He was not trained in tactical pursuit and containment and so was not authorised to use tactical contact as a technique, nor was he authorised to ignore no entry traffic signs. The IOPC panel found he did all three of these things during the pursuit and this constituted gross misconduct.

The IOPC investigation also found evidence that PC Toft was not trained to take part in any sort of pursuit, did not seek authorisation to take part and at one point mounted the pavement with his vehicle and ignored a no entry traffic sign. The IOPC panel ruled his actions constituted misconduct.

The IOPC concluded that the actions of PC Williams and PC Toft could be seen to amount to gross misconduct. It said Sussex Police were of the view the officers should be referred to a misconduct meeting instead. Following a review the IOPC, in November 2018, directed Sussex Police to hold a hearing for the panel to assess the evidence.

On February 15, 2019, PC Williams was given a final written warning while PC Toft will receive management action.

IOPC regional director Sarah Green said: “These two officers carried out an unauthorised pursuit through a busy urban area in the middle of the day, exceeding the limits of their training in the process. It is extremely fortunate that no one was injured as a result.

“The fact that a third vehicle being driven by an officer with the required level of training and who had sought authorisation, was also present serves to show that the actions of these two officers were both reckless and unnecessary.”

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