Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Fatal accident in Penge 31/8/16

At some point recently a 23 year old male decided to take a car which didn't belong to him, for a drive.
In the time following this decision, the vehicle had been reported stolen, spotted by the police, and requested to stop by a marked police road traffic unit.
Subsequently the male decided today was not a good day to stop and be arrested, so failed to stop. With two marked Met Police road traffic units behind him, the man decided to lead them on a chase through the streets of South London, and eventually lost control on Lennard Road in Penge, SE London.

Tragically, he struck a number of pedestrians as he lost control, killing two instantly, and injuring a number more, who required hospitalisation. From a simple failing to stop and possible TWoC, to death by dangerous driving. Tonight family and friends of the victims of this event will be desperately looking for answers. Why their loved ones, how did this happen, who they should blame?

The majority of law abiding citizens will have it clear in their heads. A crime was committed, the police took action, it ended tragically. A car thief failed to stop, drove like an idiot, and killed their friends or family. Critically there is the point of the thief was only driving like this because he was being pursued. Or was he? Maybe his erratic driving is what drew their attention to him in the first place. Maybe he was fleeing an offence he had just committed. Whatever the case, it doesn't change the facts of what happened.

There are also others involved in this, and affected by it. The 23 year old male who now has this action playing over and over in his mind, and the guilt already eating away at him. The officers and other first responders, as well as the public who all assisted at the scene. A scene like this is not one you are about to forget quickly. One moment, dozens of lives affected for a long time.

So who do you blame, and how do you decide that?
If the guy didn't steal the car, it would not have happened.
If he stopped for the police, it would not have happened.
If he hadn't lost control, it would not have happened.
If they had not been standing there,it would not have happened.
If the police had not chased him, it would not have happened.
If they had aborted the chase, it would not have happened.

Lot's of if's there. But the fact of the matter is, it DID happen, and both parties must stand accountable for their roles in the events of today.
When you compare the sequence of events, one certainly looks worse than the other. The 23yr old male decided to take a car, uninsured, not belonging to him, and drive it around. No protocols, no rules. Just do as he pleases. When challenged by Met Police officers he made the decision not to stop, and began to flee. At this point a pursuit begins.
Over to the police.
On identifying and targeting the stolen vehicle, a stop would be put in. Lights and maybe sirens, directing the vehicle to stop. Meanwhile they would contact the control room and advise they have made contact with a stolen vehicle, and no failing to stop. As commentary begins, the inspector in the control room would observe and authorise or call off the pursuit. The officers would advise of the road conditions, speeds, driving manner. Conditions for the day, dry, clear, and average to low traffic volumes, this would usually dictate safe to pursue.
As it progressed a number of trained and experienced officers would continually make assessment, and decide to continue or abort. With 2 cars in pursuit, that is an extra opinion.

With all this in mind, it is quite mind boggling that in this day and age, so many people have taken to Twitter and other forms of social media to attack and blame the police. Stating it wasn't necessary, a car isn't worth a life, unjustified, excessive and many other ways of saying the police were wrong to chase a car, on what the media describe as a "quiet residential area" which is also a bus route (go figure)

Of course it is easy to look on in retrospect, with no responsibility in the matter and say coulda, shoulda, woulda. But the truth is, none of us were involved in those decisions. Very few people know the actual situation front to back. Had the car been involved in something else, was there a more pressing reason to get the vehicle stopped.

Now it is great to see that many people are aware of NPAS, and their ability to control a pursuit. But even based at the nearest location, their flight time is a few minutes from lifting, I have seen them in action, it's quick but not instantaneous. How long was the pursuit from start to finish, was there even time to request NPAS, if so, where was the nearest aircraft, was it even available. It is so easy to assume all resources are available at the drop of a hat, and look back with hindsight and say how a matter should have been handled. But the raw facts remain. A car was stolen, spotted, and requested to stop. It decided not to, and the police have a job to do.

Some of the responses on Twitter have ranged from making me angry at the ignorance or direct hatred of the police, to making me worry for the mental welfare of the people writing these things. I know some seeme as "pro police" or a mindwashed follower, but I have always tried to see both sides, especially when on the wrong side myself. On this occasion, to me at least, it is clear as day who is in the wrong.

So lets have a look at some of the tweets about the decision the police made today.

How it's still deemed sensible to chase stolen cars at incredibly high speeds through build up areas is beyond me

why do Police insist on chasing these low life scumbags, risking our lives they should use intell to find them we know who they r..

why are 2 police giving chase at them speeds at this time I'n the day on school holidays
I'm sure we wil find out but I'm sure there told not to give chase on school holidays full of pedestrian

police have a duty off care.. Even when in police pursuits! Bottom line is innocents have died! Unnacceptable

So as you can see, some people certainly think the police are in the wrong. Fair to have an opinion of course, and fair play for airing it. 

Whatever you think about the matter, whatever your opinion. Please take a minute to think of the friends and families of ALL of those involved in today's events in Penge. 

For me, its plain and simple. Tragic, heartbreaking, but the results of the decisions an unnamed 23 yr old male made today. The police carried out their job, which will be scrutinised, dash cam footage reviewed, witnesses sought and interviewed by the IPCC, and a full investigation carried out on anyone who made a decision on that side of the fence during the event. The 23yr old male, well, I am sure he will have a compelling story to the delight of those wanting to find blame in the police trying to do their jobs.  
I wonder if the media can bring race into this at some point.

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