Statement on Deaths following Police Pursuit

15th June 2023

We are distressed to learn of the death of another young person in our community following yet another pursuit by Greater Manchester Police (GMP). On June 8th, 15-year-old Saul Cookson was killed when the e-bike he was riding collided with an ambulance on Langworthy Road in Salford. We extend our condolences to Saul’s family and an offer of solidarity and support in this terrible time of grief.

According to reports, Saul was being pursued by Greater Manchester Police shortly before the collision. This tragedy draws striking parallels with recent events in Cardiff in which two young boys, Harvey Evans (15) and Kyrees Sullivan (16), were killed when their e-bike crashed following a police pursuit. 

Since the height of the pandemic, we have worked closely with a growing number of families who have lost loved ones following unnecessary, high risk pursuits by GMP. Last year, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed that a record high number of road traffic fatalities involving GMP took place in 2021/22. In total, seven people lost their lives in five separate road traffic incidents, the majority of which involved pursuits by the force’s officers. The IOPC’s findings showed that, across all police forces, GMP were the worst offenders in a year when the number of road traffic fatalities involving police in England and Wales reached a four-year high. Our own work has shown that working-class men and boys, particularly from Black, Brown and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, have been disproportionately impacted

In April 2022, we worked with affected families to publish an open letter to Greater Manchester authorities including Mayor Andy Burnham expressing concern about the escalating rates of deaths. We continue to work in solidarity with these families, who have had loved ones taken from them through the repetitive dangerous actions of the GMP.

Worryingly, in the recent Cardiff and Salford cases, police drivers have engaged in pursuits with e-bikes. While the Authorised Professional Practice (APP) guidelines do not address pursuits involving e-bikes, we would argue that like pursuits involving motorcycles they come with even ‘higher risks’ due to ‘the vulnerability of the rider’ (APP, 2013). 

We reassert our call for an immediate prohibition of police initiating pursuits in circumstances involving non-violent offences or minor traffic violations. No more lives should be lost this summer to unnecessary, high risk police pursuits.