A report has found that the police pursuit of a stolen vehicle contributed to a collision between it and another car, which resulted in three people being injured.
It stated that on two occasions Area Control Room (ACR) staff instructed the two officers in the police car involved that a pursuit was not authorised.
The report, published today 27 June 2018, added that on the second occasion, the ACR staff member also advised the police driver that he could "monitor" the stolen car from a distance.
He appeared to interpret this as meaning he could follow the car until traffic officers were directed to the incident.
The stolen vehicle then collided with a parked car before striking another vehicle being driven in Dornoch Road, Holytown, North Lanarkshire. Of the four persons inside the second car struck, three were taken to hospital and received treatment for injuries including whiplash, a laceration to the head, burns and bruising. The fourth person, an eight-month-old baby, was uninjured.
The person driving the stolen car was arrested near the location of the collision and subsequently charged with a number of offences. He appeared at Hamilton Sheriff Court on 5 January 2018 and was sentenced to a 100 hours community payback order and fined £700.
The incident was referred to the PoIice Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) by Police Scotland and the investigation focused on the circumstances leading up to the collision on 25 July 2017.
A spokesperson for the PIRC's Investigations Team said:
"The actions of the police driver in pursuing the stolen car influenced the behaviour of the driver and contributed to the collision and subsequent injuries to those travelling in one of the vehicles.
"A series of recommendations have been provided to Police Scotland in relation to vehicle pursuits to mitigate against a similar incident happening again."
As part of their enquiries, PIRC Investigators interviewed and obtained statements from members of the public, police officers and staff. They also examined police statements, airwave radio recordings, ARL (Automatic Resource Location) data, Command and Control (STORM) logs, Training records and standard operating procedures/guidance documents relevant to car pursuits.
The investigation found that the police driver had received training in procedures governing vehicle pursuits, as defined in Police Scotland Standard Operating Procedures and Manuals of Guidance, and should have been aware that he was embarking on a ‘pursuit’.
It also found that statements from the police officers that they did not engage in a pursuit were contradicted by independent witnesses.
The incident happened on 25 July 2017 when Police Scotland received a report about 0722 hours that two cars had been stolen overnight from the driveway of a house in the Carfin area of Lanarkshire.
Police intelligence indicated that the suspects for the crimes were local and the stolen cars may be driving towards Holytown. As a result, officers, including Roads Policing, were sent out to search for the vehicles.
At an early stage the Area Control Room (ACR) Sergeant decided that, should the cars be seen, he would not authorise any spontaneous pursuit of either car and this instruction was passed by radio to the police officers.
About 1110 hours, two officers on patrol spotted one of the stolen cars in Holytown and reported the sighting to the ACR. Staff again told the officers that ‘no pursuit was authorised’ and this instruction was acknowledged by the officers.
Despite this, the driver of the police car pursued the stolen car for a distance of approximately 0.4 miles, before it collided with a parked car and another car being driven in Dornoch Road, Holytown, injuring three of the occupants.
It is recommended that: