Case study: West Midlands: six years under investigation

Police response driver Vaughan Lowe was responding to an emergency when a man stepped in front of his unmarked vehicle and was fatally injured.

That tragic incident, in April 2012, was the start of a six year nightmare for the West Midlands offcer. Initially he was put on trial over the man’s death and later, once he had been exonerated, he was tried for gross misconduct.

Speaking about the incident, the traumatised offcer recalls: “I was driving to an emergency and abiding by my training. A gentleman collided with the front of the vehicle and subsequently died. I went to court and stood in the witness box as a defendant – this was a new experience and not one I would wish on any police offcer. Those
fve seconds where you wait for a verdict - guilty or not guilty - your life is in the balance.”

PC Lowe was cleared, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), now the Independent Offce of Police Conduct (IOPC), decided the offcer should be investigated for gross misconduct, prompting a further 18 months of uncertainty until he was again exonerated.

He adds: “There was a review into how I’d been treated and an ACC said there had been failings, but that doesn’t make up for six years of what my family and I have been through.”

Police drivers receive ongoing training to drive outside of normal limits in emergency situations. Yet this is not currently taken into account by the law if something goes wrong.

 

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