Members of the public have been asked to have their say on the way police investigate road deaths in England and Wales.
The Association of Chief Police Officers is calling on people to help shape police policy involving road death investigations.
A consultation will focus on police standards when responding, reporting and investigating road traffic collisions and will influence an agreed policy and guidance published by ACPO.
ACPO’s last review of its Road Death Investigation Manual (RDIM) was carried out in 2007.
Assistant Chief Constable Sean White, ACPO lead for the investigation of fatal and life-changing road collisions across England and Wales, said: “The police service is committed to preventing and reducing the loss of life or serious injury on our roads.
“Long-term trends indicate that together with other agencies we are achieving that ambition.
“However, in 2011 in England and Wales on average five people still lost their lives on our roads every day, 63 people sustained serious injuries and hundreds of others suffered other injuries.”
Reported road deaths have reduced from about 5,500 a year in the mid 1980s to fewer than 2,000 last year (2011).
Over the same period, reported road casualties have decreased from 240,000 to just over 200,000.
ACC Sean White encouraged the public to comment on how they would like to see police respond, investigate and report on road traffic collisions, including bereaved family and friends who have had firsthand experience of police involvement.
He added: “Families quite rightly expect their police service to prevent and reduce these collisions from occurring and in the unexpected event that it impacts upon them they are entitled to the best service and support to aid them through such a difficult time.
“We are committed to listening to their experiences and views as well as those of partner agencies, and to updating and amending our policy and practices to keep pace with and, where possible, exceed expectations.”
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “We welcome this review of the Road Death Investigation Manual, and look forward to continuing to work with police to prevent crashes and support families whose lives are turned upside down by these tragic events.
“As a charity providing national support services to people affected by a road death or serious injury, we bear witness to the terrible devastation these collisions cause. It is critical these families get the help they need, and that we learn from collisions to prevent further tragedies; police work liaising with victims and investigating crashes is fundamental to this. We are proud to work with every force in the country to support road crash victims, and pleased to have this opportunity to develop that work further.”
The consultation is open until September 7 and comments can be made by filling out a consultation form via the Cleveland Police website: http://www.cleveland.police.uk/contact-us/ManualReview1.aspx or by writing to ACC Sean White via Cleveland Police Headquarters, PO Box 70, Ladgate Lane, Middlesbrough, TS8 9EH.
Amy Aeron-Thomas, executive director of RoadPeace, the national charity for road crash victims, said: “A thorough investigation is essential for justice.
“Without it, there is no chance of understanding what caused the collision, if someone should be prosecuted, the victim should be compensated, or how risk can be reduced in the future.
“With road deaths outnumbering homicides by three to one and all of us using the roads, the importance of police collision investigation cannot be overstated.”
At the end of the review a draft, revised road death investigation strategy and guidance will be published which will aim to provide direction for the next five years.