Police action prior to the tragic death of Violet-Grace Youens completely appropriate

An independent investigation into Merseyside Police’s role in the events leading up to a car crash in which four-year-old Violet Grace Youens was sadly killed on 24 March 2017, has concluded with no case to answer for any of the police officers involved.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) carried out the investigation after receiving a referral from the force following the tragic incident on Prescot Road in St Helens.

Aidan McAteer was jailed for nine years, four months, after pleading guilty to causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving and theft of a motor vehicle, after the Ford Fiesta he was driving struck and killed Violet-Grace and severely injured her grandmother Angela French. Dean Brennan, was found guilty of assisting an offender and aggravated vehicle-taking and was sentenced to six years, eight months in prison.

The IPCC reviewed multiple witness statements, initially collected in the criminal investigation, and examined the data recorder from a police vehicle. The investigator also interviewed a police constable as a witness.

The IPCC found that an Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) device alerted Merseyside Police to a stolen car with false number plates. The police decided to use only advanced drivers and “pre-emptive tactics”, such as a stinger, to avoid a pursuit which might endanger other members of the public.

On his way to the area an officer trained in advanced driving techniques saw the car behind him on a roundabout. He took the first exit, turning left and activated his blue lights. The car continued onto the roundabout and took a different exit. The police officer performed a u-turn, returned to the roundabout and drove in the direction he assumed the car had gone. About one mile further down the road he arrived at the scene of the accident in which Violet-Grace was killed.

In the investigator’s opinion there was no indication that any officer involved may have behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings. Merseyside Police agreed with these findings and no further action has been taken against any officer.

Operations Manager Catherine Bates said:

“On behalf of the IPCC, I would like to offer our deepest sympathies to the family of Violet-Grace, who tragically lost her life in this terrible incident. We would also like to thank the police officers involved for co-operating with our investigation. What had happened to Violet-Grace and her grandmother was so serious that we had a duty to investigate thoroughly. We focussed on the factors that led to the crash and in this case clearly the police’s actions were completely appropriate, and in line with their policies for responding to incidents like this.”

The full investigation report is published here: http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/investigations/merseyside-police-investigation-fatal-rti-st-helens
 

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