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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Damages after police pursuit

The Press Association reports a "substantial" out-of-court settlement between Gwent Police and a  man whose car windows two of their officers smashed. The 73-year-old retired businessman had reportedly taken off in his Range Rover while he was being issued with a fixed penalty notice for not wearing his seat belt, and was pursued by the police who stopped him and smashed the windows.

The police video of the 2009 incident had been uploaded to YouTube (see below), providing useful evidence in the claim - although it doesn't look much different from the way the cops apprehend offenders in any number of true-life TV programmes you can see, when they are forced to pursue someone who won't co-operate.
The driver was found guilty of not wearing a seat belt, failing to stop for a police officer and having illegally tinted car windows. He also admitted having a registration plate which did not comply with regulations, but was cleared of failing to stop after an accident. He was fined a total of £235 and ordered to pay £300 towards prosecution costs at Caerphilly Magistrates' Court.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigated the incident, but a disciplinary panel made up of officers from another force cleared the two Gwent officers, finding that their actions were justified in the circumstances.

Deputy Chief Constable Jeff Farrar stressed that the police did not admit liability, but "contesting the matter further would have incurred substantial legal costs if the case had gone to court. Therefore ... a decision was made to settle the matter out of court on financial grounds." Reports suggest that the payment made to the driver, who claimed for post-traumatic stress disorder, is over £20,000. This was in addition to more than £8,000 for damage to his vehicle (how many windows were broken?), and "all reasonable" costs of the legal action. We must be missing something here, between alleged over-reaction on the part of the police and the driver taking off after being stopped by the police in the first place ...

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