Police watchdog makes recommendations after officers fail to find carriageway walker who was later knocked down and killed
Recommendations made to police by watchdog after man’s death on major A road
By Sarah Ward
Northamptonshire Police has been told to make changes after officers failed to locate a man reported as walking along the A45 before he was then hit by a car.
The force’s control room received a report of the man wandering along the carriageway at around 11.40pm on 22 October 2021. But after the deployed officers mistakenly searched an area more than three miles away from the sighting they failed to find him. The incident was closed.
Less than an hour later at 12.30am another motorist rang the force to say they had nearly hit a man walking in the road and the same officers were sent out to the busy road near to the Earls Barton junction. Before they arrived the man was hit by a car and later died of his injuries.
The incident was referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which found no misconduct on behalf of the unnamed officers but did say the force needed to make changes to the way it records locations on busy roads.
It also needs to give more training to control room staff.
An inquest that took place in January found the cause of death as accidental. The man was not named in the report however information put out by the police at the time said he was in his early 20s. NN Journal has contacted the Northamptonshire coroners office for more details but have been told we will receive the requested information in seven days due to a busy workload.
In the recommendation section of its report the IOPC said:
“The investigation found that there were errors regarding the inputting of the location of where the man was sighted onto the incident log. This in turn appeared to have led to confusion within the log, and the correct search area was not communicated to the response officers by the dispatcher.
“Furthermore, evidence obtained during the investigation found that response officers incorrectly identified one of the junctions resulting in a shortened search area.
“Evidence obtained showed that officers searched an area that was 3. 7 miles away from the initial sighting of the man.
“During the investigation it became evident that there was a level of anxiety and concern around receiving reports of this nature involving fast roads, and particularly inputting locations on the systems correctly. The investigation found that no specific training was given to staff in relation to major/ fast roads and FCR staff fed back that they would find training useful, in particular scenarios where they could practice inputting locations, junctions and directions.”
A Northamptonshire Police spokeswoman said:
“We can confirm that we have addressed the recommendations made by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) in connection to this case.
“This included our Force Control Room reviewing its training in regards to responding to incidents on major roads, and also working with our Digital and Technology Department to improve the method in which junction numbers and locations on major roads appear on our internal systems.
“We will continue to work with the IOPC to improve our processes and to implement any recommendations that improve the quality of our services and therefore the public’s confidence in policing.”
The IOPC also made public last month that it is investigating the force over how it responded to concerns for a man’s welfare before he died in a crash on the A45 close to the Thrapston junction at 1pm on March 1.
Mark Meagan died after his Ford Kuga was involved in a collision with a lorry. The driver also died.
The IOPC said it has already spoken with the families and the police and will carry out a thorough investigation into what happened and whether the force followed national guidelines.
Last year we reported that complaints to the IOPC about Northamptonshire Police had been rising.