HC Deb 19 October 1998 vol 317 cc935-6W
Dr. Stoate

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to ensure that police traffic officers are given training in the collecting of evidence equivalent to that provided to CID officers responsible for investigating homicides. [55019]

Mr. Michael

We are keen to keep the training of police officers under review to ensure that they receive training in all the skills necessary to carry out their duties. I understand that National Police Training are planning to introduce a new course early next year on Policing Road Deaths in response to a demand from a number of forces for such training to be provided nationally. It is hoped that this course will be attended by both traffic and CID officers of the rank of inspector and above, who might be appointed to supervise such inquiries. The course is intended to provide a thorough grounding in all aspects of road death investigations and to raise awareness of the trauma likely to be caused by such incidents, both to victims and to police officers.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary is also currently undertaking a thematic inspection of traffic related police duties, including the training of traffic officers.

It should be remembered that decisions on the nature and extent of the training received by police traffic officers are primarily the responsibility of individual chief police officers. In most forces, if not all, the investigation of the scene of a serious road traffic accident is carried out by Road Accident Investigation Officers, who may be either police officers or civilian support staff, who use mathematical and physical theories and formulae to determine the speed and road position of vehicles at the time of collision. In general, police officers are skilled in managing the scene of a serious road accident and can call on specialist support skills, such as vehicle examiners, where necessary.

If there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths of road users, it is open to chief officers to bring in officers with the appropriate skills, if necessary by appointing a senior detective to serve as the senior investigating officer in order to direct and control all the necessary inquiries.

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