HC Deb 05 February 1987 vol 109 cc1126-7
4. Mr. Litherland

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Greater Manchester as to the number of deaths and serious accidents resulting from police car pursuits in the Greater Manchester area during the last three years; and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Douglas Hogg)

The chief constable of Greater Manchester has informed me that from I June 1986 to 31 December 1986 his force's police vehicls were involved in one fatal accident, in which a person was killed, I I accidents causing serious injury, and 82 accidents in which there was slight injury. These figures include all accidents, not just those arising from pursuits. Information for the rest of 1986 and earlier years can be obtained only at disproportionate cost, but with effect from the beginning of 1987 arrangements have been made for collecting statistics on police vehicle accidents involving death or serious injury in all force areas.

Mr. Litherland

Is the Minister aware that in a recent car pursuit in the centre of Manchester there was a tragic loss of life—that of a young, innocent 17-year-old, Tracey McCaig? Will he consider issuing strict instructions to the chief constable of Greater Manchester to adhere to the policy in the police drivers' manual, which says: No emergency is so urgent as to justify an accident"? We are talking about deaths. When will the Minister accept responsibility and take some action?

Mr. Hogg

The death of Tracey McCaig was a tragedy, and I know that the House will wish to express its sympathy to her family and friends. However, it is necessary to put it into perspective. In 1985, in the Greater Manchester area, there was a fleet of about 1,000 vehicles which covered about 20 million miles and were involved in a total of 1,583 accidents. Nevertheless, that accident was a tragedy.

Sir Philip Goodhart

As the problem of police pursuits is not confined to Greater Manchester—

Mr. Speaker

Order. Unfortunately, the original question is.