Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Force cleared of wrongdoing after review of death crash

Force cleared of wrongdoing after review of double death crash

THAMES Valley Police has been cleared of any wrongdoing by the force watchdog after a crash which killed an officer and elderly woman near Wargrave.

Pc James Dixon and Gladys Goodwin died at the scene of the incident on the A4 Bath Road on December 5, 2017.

Mrs Goodwin, 91, from Wargrave, was the passenger in a car which was turning right into Blakes Lane as it was hit by Pc Dixon’s motorbike.

Agne Jasulaitiene, 36, of Talavera Close, Crowthorne, was cleared of causing death by careless driving at Reading Crown Court last month.

Pc Dixon, 39, was taking part in a surveillance training operation with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs at the time and may have been travelling as fast as 97mph in the 50mph zone.

An investigation was carried out by the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which “found no justification any police officer behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or had committed a criminal offence.” 

The watchdog says it identified an “apparent confusion” around police exemptions regarding speed being applied by officers.

It was concluded that future training exercises might benefit from a more shared approach to risk assessments being taken between HMRC and the assiting force.

Sarah Green, IOPC regional director, said: “I extend my condolences to the families and everyone affected by the death of Gladys Goodwin and Pc James Dixon.

“At the end of our investigation, we provided our findings to TVP and HMRC and offered to arrange a debrief to discuss organisational learning, which needed to be addressed by the agencies involved in this training exercise.

“This was delayed until the conclusion of the criminal trial. Now all proceedings have concluded we will go ahead with arranging this.

“We found that although the training exercise Pc Dixon was taking part in did adhere to policy and procedures, improvements could be made to ensure all officers are aware of when speed exemptions are applicable or not.”

Known as “Dixie” from his appearances on TV’s Road Wars, Pc Dixon’s widow, Samantha, gave birth three months after the collision.

The Toyota Aygo being driven by Ms Jasulaitiene ended up on its roof and the road was closed for several hours.

More than 40 witness statements from police officers, HMRC staff and members of the public were taken during the investigation.

The evidence gathered suggested risk assessments were carried out in line with policy, but Thames Valley Police agreed to review joint risk assessments going forward.

A police statement said: "Following these tragic circumstances a review by Thames Valley Police began immediately.

"As is right and proper, evaluation of this incident has been ongoing and any way to improve risk assessments and current policies, despite actions on the day being in line with them, have been established and are welcomed to improve the safety of our officers and staff, our partners and the wider community.

"Further, as has been established by the report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct, there was no indication any police officer behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or had committed a criminal offence.

“It also found the risk assessments on that day were carried out in line with policy. Any learning and improvements is being communicated nationally."

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