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Thursday, 17 April 2014

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Cumbria death crash fallout goes beyond human tragedy

EVERY fatal crash costs the public purse around £1.2m, a Cumbria police expert has revealed.

PC Mark Dempster, a collision investigator based at Ulverston police station, said the estimated bill took stock of the entire process – from the moment emergency services arrive, to potential proceedings at an inquest or criminal court.

PC Dempster told the Safer, Better, Stronger meeting in The Forum, Barrow: “The government has said from the start to the very end, the overall cost to the country is £1.2m.

“When you consider everyone who attends – the police, ambulance paramedics, fire service – through to the people at hospital – doctors, radiographers, nurses – and the knock-on effect to the economic activity of the community when a road is shut for four-to-seven hours, you can see how it adds up.”

There were 30 deaths and 164 serious injuries on Cumbria’s roads in 2012.

PC Dempster said his department does not use the word “accident” and has the motto: “Cars don’t kill people, people kill people using cars”.

He said the old-fashioned approach of “brushing it away” and re-opening the road as soon as possible had long since ended.

Today, all road deaths are investigated as unlawful killing and officers work downwards from there, said PC Dempster.

Cumbria has five collision investigators – working at the Penrith HQ and Ulverston – and PC Dempster, who lives in Barrow, said his and colleagues’ journey times to crashes can add to the duration of road closures.

PC Dempster said: “All scenes are secured to prevent the loss of evidence

“We only get one shot, because once the road sweeper has been through and the road is handed back to the Highways Agency, that’s it.”

A collision investigator’s work continues for months after the collision as they carry out tests, examinations and reconstructions.

PC Dempster said they looked at evidence such as the pre-collision mechanical condition of the vehicle, the engine control unit and review all witness statements, toxicology reports and post mortem reports.

During the meeting, Inspector Dave Bosson, who heads up the South Cumbria Road Policing Unit, also told of the emotional support provided by family liaison officers to grieving families.

Insp Bosson said: “Somebody has got to be able to knock on the door and tell them their wife is not coming home because they’ve been killed.”

Have your say

A breakdown of these enormous costs would have been very helpful.

Posted by William Wooleyback on 28 February 2013 at 09:11

Why does everything even death and anguish have to be measured by its cash value?

Posted by Tony on 27 February 2013 at 19:14

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