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Met car chase policy must change after charity worker killed in police crash, says coroner

File image of New Scotland Yard  (PA Archive)
File image of New Scotland Yard (PA Archive)

The Met needs to clarify its blue lights policy after an officer fatally crashed into a charity worker while chasing a suspect without his siren or lights on, a coroner has said.

PC Daniel Francis crashed into 23-year-old Andrew Brown in Hounslow on Bonfire Night 2019 while speeding at 61 mph to catch a suspect. He swerved and applied his brakes but was travelling too fast to avoid hitting Mr Brown as he crossed the road.

Francis was spared jail in a trial at the Old Bailey but was later thrown out of the force.

An inquest into Mr Brown’s death heard that there were “inadequacies” in the Met’s training and policies over the use of blue lights and sirens at night.

In a report, issued on Monday, assistant west London coroner Dr Anton van Dellen recommended that Scotland Yard amend its vehicle policy and make exemptions clearer in the wake of the fatal crash.

The prevention of future deaths report stated: “The jury’s findings were that the Police policy was inadequate in that there was insufficient reference to other road users and pedestrians and their safety in the policy and the policy was also too open to interpretation, both which possibly contributed to the death.”

The force now has 56 days to reply to the coroner to set out how it intends to prevent similar deaths from taking place in future.

Mr Brown was just two months into a job at the Ministry of Defence when he suffered the fatal head injury in the crash.

Another man who was also hit by the police car escaped serious injury.

Speaking at the previous Old Bailey trial, Mr Brown’s mother, Isabel Brown, told the court how her son had worked with special needs children in America and had ambitions of taking a job dealing with national disasters.

She said in tribute: ”He was a unique combination of clever, kind, and incredibly artistic.”

Francis had told officers he did not switch on his lights and siren because he did not want to alert the suspect. He was handed a suspended prison sentence of 12 months earlier this year.

A Met Police spokesperson said: “We are aware of the outcome of the inquest and wish to extend our thoughts and sympathies to the family and friends of Mr Brown.

“We thank the Jury and HM Coroner for their detailed and thorough review of this incident.

“Any death following police contact is a tragedy and as an organisation we are determined to learn lessons wherever possible.”

The spokesperson said the coroner had been satisfied that there was no need to make specific recommendations on driver training, as this had been improved since the incident, and that the force would review the other recommendations.