They Walk Among Us

It cannot have escaped your notice that over the last few days there have been at least two serious Road Traffic Collisions in London caused by cars being ‘pursued’ by Police crashing and injuring or killing totally innocent pedestrians.

It goes without saying that these are tragic events, and my thoughts are with everyone involved, in any way.  I do not wish to minimise the seriousness of these events or trivialise them in any way, but it is immediately apparent that the media, and others, have jumped upon a bandwagon and are calling for such pursuits to be stopped because they are dangerous.

Yes they are dangerous, I  don’t dispute that.

However, behind every pursuit lies a hell of a lot of skill and experience. They don’t just happen in a random, uncontrolled manner.  There are rules concerning which drivers can, and can’t, engage in a pursuit. How many cars can be involved. How long it can be allowed to continue before it is abandoned or the ‘bandit’ is forced to stop.

The drivers involved have undergone weeks, if not months, of intensive theory and practical training.  If they don’t meet the required standard they are failed.  It is NOT a “Turn Up And Pass” course.

There are experienced supervisors in Police Control Rooms who will be constantly monitoring the pursuit and communicating advice or instructions to the pursuing vehicles.  In the Met, at least, those communications are recorded in case they are needed later.

There is nowhere to hide from the responsibility of being involved in, or supervising, a pursuit.

But still things can go wrong, as we have seen this week.

NOBODY can anticipate, or prevent, the driver being pursued, exceeding his/her abilities and crashing. Nobody.

Tragically that can, and will, happen, and it WILL happen again in the future, of that I have no doubt.  The drivers and controllers are highly trained, the risks are being constantly assessed in Real Time within, and away from, the Police cars.  Drivers and Controllers have aborted pursuits that they think have become too dangerous, and they will continue to do so.  Nobody, however, knows the fate of the ‘bandit’.  It cannot be anticipated 100%.  Sometimes they will crash and there is nothing anyone can have done to prevent that, as long as the rules and guidelines have all been followed.

Have they been followed in these two incidences?  I don’t know and I’m not going to prejudge it, the subsequent investigations will establish that, but I hope that they were.

Public reaction to such an awful event has been swift and I have seem all manner of comments and opinions, but my hat goes off to a lady who has launched an online petition calling for such Police pursuits to be banned.

I want the government to stop the police chasing stolen vehicles. More people have lost their lives today when a stolen vehicle ploughed into pedestrians after being chased through busy streets by the police.
Why is this important?
It’s important because the police are too gung-ho when they are chasing thieves in cars and too many innocent people have lost their lives. More will lose their lives if this isn’t stopped.
A car is not worth the price of lives that can be lost.

This, I find to be naive in the extreme.

  • Not all cars pursued by Police have been stolen.
  • People have been killed or injured by stolen cars that were NOT being pursued by the Police.
  • Frequently the officers do not know why the ‘bandit’ makes off at high speed when he/she sees the Police, are they supposed to just shrug their shoulders and wonder why?
  • The driver may be drunk, a danger to themselves, and other road users, and need to be stopped for Public Safety.
  • There may be firearms in the car, are we supposed to just let it go?
  • There may be the victim of a Child Abduction in the car.
  • There may a Kidnap or Rape victim in the car.
  • The driver may be on the way to or from a Burglary, or other crime, and not want to be stopped for obvious reasons.
  • The driver may be Disqualified or have No Insurance.

There are many, many reasons why a driver may make off when he/she sees a Police vehicle and in many instances the officer won’t know what those reasons are until the vehicle is stopped and the driver questioned.

Never forget that the ‘bandit’ ALWAYS has the option to stop and bring things to a safe conclusion.  The moment they choose not to, whatever happens after that is largely down to them. Their responsibility.

The officers didn’t leave home that day intent on being involved in such a tragic event.  They will be feeling absolutely bloody awful, even if/when it is shown they were within the rules. They are human too, with human feelings and emotions.

Yes there has to be rules and guidelines, and yes they have to be followed, but please, petitions like the one above are a knee-jerk reaction, they are not what is required. Tie the officers’ hands behind their backs, prevent them from doing their jobs in a responsible manner and we may all just give up and go home, the criminals will have won.

Is that what we want?

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6 comments on “They Walk Among Us

  1. Alan it seems that rather than blame the criminal who committed the offence it is easier for the press and some of the public to just blame the Police!
    Seems it is all part of the blame mentality

    It would seem that they don’t want us to stop and search people and they don’t want us to pursue suspects as you say we might as well pack our bags and go home.
    Please I’d like to know how do you stop criminals and prevent crime if you are not allowed to stop or pursues!
    They fail to realise that there are some not very nice people out there who do not conform to the laws and standards of behaviour that most of us do.
    These people have no regard for either your property or your safety.
    If you tie the hands of the Police they won’t just say OK we won’t commit crimes.
    They will continue with no fear and increase their activity.
    The majority of people who steal cars don’t do it for profit they do it so they can drive fast, they do it for the thrill.
    Stopping police pursuing them will not stop their need for speed and risk!
    They will continue to drive fast and dangerously, unchecked!
    Perhaps they should be looking at the social causes of such actions and the sentencing and rehabilitation of offenders.
    But all that costs, so it’s easier to blame the Police, they only people who are trying to prevent such activities and prevent anarchy!
    It is such a short sighted and naive view by some and by others it is just pure mischief and an easy headline!
    Yes you are right it is not just car thieves who use cars for criminal activity and how are the Police to know that they are a car thief, an armed robber, a child sexual predator or a terrorist unless they are actually allowed to stop and or pursue?
    Welcome to our world which is full of not very nice people and if anyone has a better way then we are happy to listen.
    Unfortunately I don’t hear any constructive ideas or anyone offering assistance.
    It is easy to blame the Police and it seems it is encouraged!

    • Yes, quite right, I suspect that very few cars are stolen for monetary gain. Speed and excitement are all, and they will still be driven dangerously whether Police are behind them or not. Sadly, no matter how much we assess and reduce the risk, we can never eliminate it completely. On the other hand, not many criminals are highly trained or conduct Risk Assessments

  2. This all came about when the anti Police politically correct brigade got involved.I spent 18yrs as a Traffic Officer and although a few years ago when I first started we would stop the offending vehicle by what was known as putting it off.Yes it was dangerous but that way only the offender was put at risk.Very few were injured as a result but at least innocent members of the public were a lot safer.If the vehicle contained children or several passengers this wasn’t done.

    • Personally I see nothing wrong with that as long as there are no children etc in the car. As I said, they could always stop,

  3. The British public need to decide what it is they want the police to do? If they don’t want crime to be prevented or solved maybe a new ‘Civil Harm Reduction Service’ could be formed (as one think tank proposed) and officials just focus on vulnerable people. The problem is, too many high rankers don’t defend their officers and instead actively look to blame their lower ranked colleagues to appease a growing and very vocal politically correct, left wing lobby born out of a disinformed victimhood culture. The British police, seemingly are to blame for everything -even the deaths of minorities in the United States if recent march organisers are to be believed.

    • Can’t disagree with that. It’s absolutely crystal clear why morale is so low, and Middle Management upwards are completely away with the fairies when it comes to proper policing and supporting their troops when they’re not actually wrong.

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