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Police-related road traffic fatalities hit eight-year high

Road traffic fatalities during or following police contact hit have hit an eight-year high, according to the latest report from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Between April the 1st, 2016 and the 31st of March, 2017, the IPCC recorded a total of 32 road traffic fatalities during or following police contact, an increase of 11 on the year before.

28 of the fatalities were said to be from ‘pursuit-related incidents’, a figure more than double the 13 from the following year, the highest figure since 2011 and the third highest since 2006.

The lowest number of road traffic deaths involving police contact since 2006 was 12 and took place between 2013 and 2014. The highest, recorded between 2008 and 2009, was 40. The IPCC began reporting these statistics in 2004.

In terms of the demographic split, 24 of the fatalities were male and eight were female. 12 were aged between 21 and 30, while the eldest was 78. The average was 31 years old, rising to 48 if the deceased was a pedestrian, cyclist or in an unrelated vehicle.

“The sharp increase in pursuit-related deaths is deeply worrying and underlines the fact that police chases, often at excessive speed, are incredibly dangerous,” said Jason Wakeford, a spokesperson for road safety charity Brake.

He added: “We are particularly concerned to learn that none of these deaths were in response to emergencies and two-thirds of the people who died were passengers, bystanders or other road users.

“It simply cannot be worth risking innocent lives by engaging in perilous chases when trying to secure an arrest. The National Police Chiefs’ Council must urgently review pursuit procedures in light of these very troubling figures.”

The IPCC classes a road traffic incident as pursuit-related if it involves a pursuit or the police were driving in the same direction as a suspect vehicle. This includes incidents where the suspect had been recently been pursued and police had lost sight of the vehicle.

The same IPCC report also looked at fatal police shootings, of which there were over a year ─ the highest recorded figure since 2004 to 2005. One death was said to be ‘terrorism-related’ and three are still being investigated.

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