A report published earlier this week by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirms that a record high number of road traffic fatalities involving Greater Manchester Police (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 GMP officers. The IOPC’s findings show 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.
None of these findings will come as a surprise to the families, friends and loved ones of those whose lives were lost in these tragic and unnecessary events. These incidents illustrate GMP’s complete disregard for the lives of those affected and for the public. As early as June 2021, Northern Police Monitoring Project raised the alarm about the growing number of deaths following pursuits initiated by GMP officers. Working-class men and boys, disproportionately from Black, Brown and Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities, were being killed following police pursuits. While the IOPC report describes those killed as statistics, the nameless ‘fatalities’ of ‘road traffic incidents’ involving the police, we continue to say their names and wherever possible tell the stories of those known to us…
We are working with some of the affected families and loved ones and we welcome others who we have not yet connected with to get in touch, reach out for support and join the campaign.
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 and calling for a prohibition on pursuits when drivers flee the police for nonviolent offences and other minor traffic violations. We received no response.
This week the IOPC’s Director General Michael Lockwood finally admitted publicly that the rise in fatalities nationwide was ‘concerning’. Yet, Lockwood’s statements ring hollow considering his organisation’s abject failure to raise those concerns in the process of often multi-year investigations into deaths following pursuits. The IOPC has repeatedly shown an inability and unwillingness to hold police drivers accountable. Of the ninety-seven investigations into road traffic incidents completed between 1 April 2012 and 30 September 2018 only two officers were prosecuted for pursuit related incidents and none were convicted. Unfortunately, the Conservative Government’s controversial Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act makes holding police drivers accountable even more difficult.
Northern Police Monitoring Project continues to work closely with affected families, friends and loved ones of those killed in pursuits initiated by GMP. We ask you to sign our open letter and express your support for an immediate ban on police pursuits for nonviolent and other minor traffic offences. We have questions and concerns about the practices, processes and guidelines surrounding police pursuits. In collaboration with some of the affected families and loved ones – and following lessons learnt in inquests – we will be publishing our recommendations and demands on police pursuits in the coming weeks.