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Fedster

Officer who killed man in crash told his job will be waiting for him

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Fedster

'Exemplary' record weighs heavily in chief's decision to allow death driver to return to police ranks.

Balvinder Singh: Died from road crash injuries in December 2016

Balvinder Singh: Died from road crash injuries in December 2016

Date - 3rd January 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
3 Comments3 Comments}

 

A chief has given an officer who admitted killing a popular shopkeeper the chance to “rebuild his life” by keeping his job open when he has served his prison term.

The “unprecedented circumstances” and “exemplary” record of Sergeant Jason Bannister means he will be able to return to work after finishing his 18-month jail sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.

Staffordshire Chief Constable Gareth Morgan believes there are “exceptional circumstances” as to why he should ignore College of Policing guidelines and retain the services of the 45-year-old officer.

Following the outcome of a special case hearing, CC Morgan released a lengthy 1,180-word statement in support of his reasoning behind the decision not to impose a “deterrent value” in his determination of police regulations.

He laid particular emphasis on the fact that the public did not need “protecting” from the officer with regard to his past, present or future behaviour.

Temporary Sgt Bannister was the subject of misconduct proceedings after being handed a 18-month prison term at Birmingham crown court in November.

The off-duty Staffordshire officer’s Hyundai was in a head-on collision with a Mercedes Sprinter van driven by Balvinder Singh in December 2016.

Shopkeeper Mr Singh, 59, from Wednesfield, was taken to hospital following the two-vehicle crash on Cannock Road, Wolverhampton, but died later the same day from his injuries.

The officer was treated for minor injuries and, following a probe by West Midlands Police’s serious collision investigation team, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving earlier this year.

In addition to the prison sentence, the officer – who pleaded guilty at a hearing in September – was banned from driving for three years and nine months.

At a special case hearing on Friday, CC Morgan found that Sgt Bannister's conduct amounted to gross misconduct and he was issued with a final written warning and “retained in service”.

The chief constable said the events of the case were “profoundly tragic for all involved but none so much as the family of Balvinder Singh”.

He added: “The pain and loss felt by his family is evident in the statements submitted to the court and supplied additionally to this hearing.

“But it is also a tragedy for Jason Bannister. His remorse and acknowledgement of his guilt at court and at the hearing are testament to his own insight into these tragic circumstances that brought him to this point.”

CC Morgan went on to explain that his role in the case was to provide a “dispassionate application of the regulations, accepting the breadth of discretion the process affords”.

He said: “I am satisfied that these exceptional circumstances warrant the application of my discretion provided for in the regulations.

“The purpose of the misconduct proceedings is not to punish. It is about setting standards and reassuring the public that they can be maintained.

“Jason Bannister has admitted causing death by his dangerous driving and accepted that his conduct has been discreditable and amounts to gross misconduct. 

“Is this sufficient to underline the standards expected? Or do the particular circumstances of this case – which are not in dispute and the off duty nature of the incident– balance the gravity of the criminal conviction and penal sentence of the court?

“Nothing that has been argued or presented in any written submission persuades me that the public need protecting from Jason Bannister.

“Nor do I consider that this behaviour and conduct finding need to be amplified as a preventative measure to ensure that others are persuaded to change their behaviour.

“I do not believe there is a requirement for a deterrent value in this determination; there is much to be learned from these events – including the danger of sleep deprivation – but that learning would not in my view be advanced further through any specific conduct outcome.

The harm caused in this case does not need to be contemplated further – the events of December29, 2016 were catastrophic and the College of Policing guidance clearly suggests that in these circumstances dismissal is likely to follow.

“The conduct is mitigated by the specifics of the accident – momentary lapse in particular. T/Sgt Bannister’s actions at the scene, his remorse and approach to both the criminal case and these proceedings are noted.

“Jason Bannister's service record underscores that he has served the public in an exemplary fashion throughout his time in Staffordshire Police and provides significant reassurance that he would do so in future.

"I know that nothing can undo the tragedy that blights the life of the Singh family as a result of this tragedy, but in my view Jason Bannister should not be prevented from rebuilding and rehabilitating his life having served his custodial sentence.

“Therefore, after much deliberation and reflection, I have made the decision to retain Jason Bannister in service in these specific and unprecedented circumstances."

The officer will not be paid during the length of his prison sentence, according to Staffordshire Police.

However, despite the conviction, neither Staffordshire nor the investigating West Midlands force plans to release a ‘mugshot’ image of the officer for “safeguarding” reasons.

The Staffordshire force spokesman told Police Oracle: "All custody images are individually risk assessed and are usually issued by the force who dealt with the incident which in this case is West Midlands Police."

The West Midlands force said it did not have a custody photo of Bannister.

Shortly after his death, Mr Singh’s family paid tribute to their loved one, they said: “He was the most loyal and hard-working family man, with three children and six grandchildren who were his everything one of which he never got to meet."

View On Police Oracle

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Fedster

 

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Sir Penguin

I imagine it will be a controversial decision but I agree with everything he has said. It is always tragic when someone dies as a result of a PVC, very much like the one that occurred on Christmas Day. Will be interesting to hear other people's views. 

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Growley

How likely is he to actually want to come back though?

I've known a few officers to face charges, and almost all left the job even after being found not guilty. The system failed them and they stopped trusting it.

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HazRat
4 hours ago, Growley said:

How likely is he to actually want to come back though?

I've known a few officers to face charges, and almost all left the job even after being found not guilty. The system failed them and they stopped trusting it.

In this case I don’t think it did fail him. He was treated and dealt with like anyone else who has killed someone in an RTC

I do applaud the CC for his bold decision.

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Growley
In this case I don’t think it did fail him. He was treated and dealt with like anyone else who has killed someone in an RTC
I do applaud the CC for his bold decision.
It'd certainly make you think twice about driving for the job.

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Straker

Separate from the dismissal part of it which I honestly can't make my mind up on. It is not likely that most employers could afford to effectively leave a post gapped or hire a contractor to cover for somebody during a custodial sentence, nor for that matter should they have to. 

I don't see how his involvement in an off duty collision and subsequent prosecution (with no involvement from IOPC or the forces PSD from the article) has any discouraging factor for officers driving on the job. It's not like he was driving a police vehicle, using any RTA exemptions or involved in a pursuit. 

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Zulu 22
24 minutes ago, Straker said:

Separate from the dismissal part of it which I honestly can't make my mind up on. It is not likely that most employers could afford to effectively leave a post gapped or hire a contractor to cover for somebody during a custodial sentence, nor for that matter should they have to. 

I don't see how his involvement in an off duty collision and subsequent prosecution (with no involvement from IOPC or the forces PSD from the article) has any discouraging factor for officers driving on the job. It's not like he was driving a police vehicle, using any RTA exemptions or involved in a pursuit. 

But he has been convicted of a Criminal Offence.  His driving actions did result in a conviction for Death by Dangerous Driving. On or Off duty would not make any difference.

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CountyCop

I would be intrigued to know what the victims family think of this, has their support or lack of been factored into the decision making of the chief.

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