Watchdog finds unauthorised police chase ‘contributed’ to crash

The crash took place in Dornoch Road, Holytown
The crash took place in Dornoch Road, Holytown

The police watchdog has found that an unauthorised police chase of a stolen car contributed to a crash in Holytown last year.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) said the incident on July 25 unfolded after two cars were stolen in Carfin.

Police intelligence suggested the suspects were local and driving towards Holytown, with officers sent out to search for the vehicles.

The area control room sergeant decided early on that he would not authorise any spontaneous pursuit of either car and this instruction was passed by radio to the officers on patrol.

About 11am, two officers spotted one of the stolen cars and reported this to the control room, being reminded “no pursuit was authorised”.

The driver was told he could “monitor” the stolen car from a distance, but according to the Pirc report “appeared to interpret this as meaning he could follow the car until traffic officers were directed to the incident”.

During the pursuit the stolen vehicle collided with a parked car before striking another vehicle in Dornoch Road. Three people in the car hit required treatment for injuries including whiplash, a cut head, burns and bruising. but an eight-month-old baby was uninjured.

The man driving the stolen car was arrested nearby and convicted over a number of driving offences earlier this year.

A Pirc spokesman said: “The actions of the police driver in pursuing the stolen car influenced the behaviour of the driver and contributed to the collision and subsequent injuries to those travelling in one of the vehicles.

“A series of recommendations have been provided to Police Scotland in relation to vehicle pursuits to mitigate against a similar incident happening again.”

The watchdog recommended the police driver receives further training and the force considers introducing standardised terminology for use by control room staff when instructing officers.