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Fedster

Bedfordshire Police specials get 'final warning'

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Fedster

Police car

Two special police officers who drove at more than 100mph despite not being trained to do so have been found guilty of gross misconduct.

Special constable Terry Whinnett-James and acting special sergeant Umar Ajaz were responding to a burglary when the police car hit speeds up to 112mph.

Neither was trained to drive above the speed limit nor activate the siren.

An independent police panel said the officers, of Bedfordshire Police, should receive a final warning.

The pair were despatched to a report of a burglary where the perpetrators were still on the scene on 4 July last year.

'Wrong thing, right reasons'

Mr Ajaz was driving the marked police car at speeds of up to 112mph, the panel heard.

On two other occasions that night, Mr Whinnett-James drove the marked car at speeds of 102pmh, and 53mph in a 30mph zone.

SirenImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionThe hearing heard that the men drove at speeds of more than 100mph

Mr Ajaz's barrister, Kevin Baumber, said his client "did the wrong thing for the right reasons".

Mr Whinnett-James' barrister, Matthew Butt, said his client was "extremely remorseful."

Deputy Chief Constable Garry Forsyth said: "Given the nature of the incident it was necessary to put the matter before an independent panel to assess whether the officers had breached the standards of professional behaviour.

"While the actions of these specials were found to have amounted to gross misconduct, I am satisfied that they were acting with best intentions in responding to reports of burglaries - therefore agree with the sanction of a final written warning.

"It is important we support our officers and staff in such cases, this outcome will allow both officers to learn from the incident and move forward with their policing careers", he said.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-44384379

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Beaker

I actually sighed at this when I read it. While I think their intentions were good, their behaviour reflects on all of us. If we want more training we need to show were sensible enough to stick within the rules we currently have.

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Zulu 22

Their status should have been revoked and dismissed. They were not trained and their actions were irresponsible and dangerous.

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David

Even recognising the inevitable criticism from other quarters that the police didn't respond quickly enough, this is one of the rare times I can't support the officers I'm afraid.

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BlueBob

It wasn't the first and won't be the last time officers (specials included) haven't done something similar.  Overall a fair result all round.  What is lacking is supervision.  Its not too difficult to tag vehicles on the control room / managers / supervisors systems for excess speed, being off the sector etc.  This sort of thing could and can be managed, its the will to do so, knowing that if they (The force at whatever level they choose)  do manage things like excess speed that it will impact upon the response stats.  And there, as they say, is the rub.  Perhaps management prefer not to do what is possible rather than demonstrate officer cannot achieve the impossible. 

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Beaker

I do think that id they'd been pinching it a little it wouldn't have even been noticed, or at least a blind eye turned. The stupidly excessive speeds though couldn't be ignored. There is no way an A-B driver can justify 100mph+. Personally as an SC I wouldn't want blue light even if offered. It's a perishable skill to drive like that, and I've enough self awareness to know my limits.

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David
1 hour ago, BlueBob said:

What is lacking is supervision.

I don't know I'd agree there, not really a supervisory matter. Officers know exactly what they are entitled to since they undertake the relevant driving courses where these things are made clear. Certainly the Acting Special Sergeant should have known exactly what he was entitled to do - and he was ranking officer.

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Hades
2 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

Their status should have been revoked and dismissed. They were not trained and their actions were irresponsible and dangerous.

Except the independent chair felt differently, having heard all the evidence.  

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Mac7

As an advanced driver I could not justify speeds in excess of 100mph in a 30 mph area. I’ve travelled on some 30 limit roads where I think the limit should be higher but most are residential areas. Reaction times would be non existent as such speeds. They put themselves at risk as well as the public.

I’ve seen (mainly new in service officers) use blue lights when they are not supposed to. It really is not worth it if something goes wrong and without proper training, it inevitably will.

I agree with Zulu. It was reckless and irresponsible. I’m surprised driving offences were not considered.

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Sceptre
31 minutes ago, Mac7 said:

As an advanced driver I could not justify speeds in excess of 100mph in a 30 mph area.

Where in the article did it say they did over 100mph in a 30mph? It says one of them did 53mph in a 30, not 100.

31 minutes ago, Mac7 said:

I’m surprised driving offences were not considered.

As the relevant parts of the RSA haven't commenced yet they benefit from the exemption as any other officer. The entire journey would have been recorded by the IDR so presumably on the evidence the appropriate authority didn't feel there was a case to answer for careless or dangerous driving.

I can understand why they chose to do what they did and felt themselves justified in doing it at the time, and I sympathise with them as much as I do with any of the specials (or for that matter PCs) I've known get into trouble not by malice or being bad officers but through over-exuberance and a willingness to take risks to do what they thought was the right thing. I presume that the people getting their pitchforks out have all been paragons of sticking to the rules throughout their service, and never speed in their own cars either. It wasn't a good idea and isn't to be condoned particularly at those speeds, but I do think this is a just outcome and the DCC should be applauded for his sensible perspective.

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Zulu 22

I disagree, they were Specials and they showed and alarming lack of judgement, and do not deserve to be serving. They were no advanced drivers and had no training for travelling at those speeds.  Completely irresponsible.

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MerseyLLB

He who hath not sinned and all that ...

Most basic drivers have probably tipped the Speedo needle a notch for the odd job but nothing like what they did repeatedly.

As for the blasting 112mph... as a basic driver even allowing for the street warrior in me... if it wasn't an exceptional assistance shout there's just no justification.

They were very lucky I feel. 

My views is specials performance and conduct tends to be uplifted when they work as part of a regular section rather than booking on ad hoc and policing how they think it should be done.

 

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Mac7

The last few lines of the article Sceptre. The way it’s written suggests they were travelling at 102 in a 30.

I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where the adrenaline has been pumping and we want to get to an incident as quickly as possible but you should not let that adrenaline cloud your judgement. Nor should you let it influence your decision makings. How to manage that adrenaline or stress early in your career can be hugely beneficial especially when attending major incidents.

I think they’ve been very fortunate to walk away with a final warning. They may have detained a burglar but potentially at what cost. I would rather miss a burglar than kill myself, an MOP or my crew mate.

You should not be doing what you are not trained to do, however frustrating that may be.

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cookyy2k
On 06/06/2018 at 15:39, Fedster said:

Mr Ajaz was driving the marked police car at speeds of up to 112mph, the panel heard.

On two other occasions that night, Mr Whinnett-James drove the marked car at speeds of 102pmh, and 53mph in a 30mph zone.

This wasn't just on their way to the one job either, this was a course of action that both of them partook in. Including 102 in a 30! Very lucky not to be stood in the dock let alone staying in. This is the nonsense that makes us all look bad and has been used time and again when the question of specials driving comes up.

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PCSD
Posted (edited)

Even as a standard response driver, in a force with no limit for standard drivers (no +20 etc) I can't think of any circumstance where I would drive excess of 100mph in a 30 limit. 

I thought I was a good confident driver before my course but those were the 3 most useful weeks that I have ever had personal development wise and I wouldn't have dreamt of it before hand.  

As others have said, this reflects on all officers and comes at a time when we are trying to argue for greater protection from certain elements of the RTA. I have seen officers in my force dismissed for more minor driving policy breaches.

Edited by PCSD

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