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July 15, 2013

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Police handed £256,000 penalty for ‘cops and robbers’ training fatality

A police force and one of its officers have been fined for safety failings following an incident in which a constable was shot dead during a training exercise.

Manchester Crown Court heard that PC Ian Terry, 32, was attending a firearms training exercise at a disused warehouse in Newton Heath, Manchester, on 9 June 2008. The exercise consisted of a scenario to practise the apprehension of armed criminals from a car.

PC Terry was shot by a colleague while playing the role of an armed criminal. The gun the colleague was using contained a specialist ammunition called and RIP (Round Irritant Personnel)  cartridge, which disperses CS gas crystals and is designed not to kill. However, PC Terry, who was not wearing any body armour, received severe injuries to his chest and was pronounced dead at hospital.

A training officer responsible for the course, who was referred to as Constable Francis during the trial to protect his identity, ran the course but failed to properly consider the risks. He allowed participants to use live ammunition while encouraging them to act in an aggressive manner during the exercise.

PC Francis was found guilty of breaching s7 of the HSWA 1974, for failing to protect his colleague, following a four-week trial. He was sentenced on 12 July and was fined £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £500. Another firearms trainer, known as Sergeant Eric, was found not guilty of the same offence.

Also sentenced at the same hearing was Greater Manchester Police, which pleaded guilty in March to breaching s2(1) of the 1974 Act. It was fined £166,666 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000.

Passing sentence, Mr Justice Holroyde said: “I have no doubt that if the proper procedures had been followed the training would not have been permitted, and PC Terry would still be alive.”

After the hearing, HSE Principal Inspector Mike Calcutt explained that PC Francis should have ensured the training was carried out without using live ammunition and PC Terry should have been provided with body armour. He said:

“His [PC Terry] death was entirely preventable. PC Francis has been found guilty of failing to protect his colleague by introducing dangerous and reckless elements into a training exercise. Greater Manchester Police accepted its failings and we welcomed their guilty plea earlier this year.”

Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy said: “On behalf of Greater Manchester Police, and also personally, I want to apologise for the failings, which led to the death of PC Ian Terry.

“Since Ian’s death we have introduced a number of rigorous measures to ensure that the risk to our officers on such training exercises is minimised and that their safety is our number-one priority.”

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Colin Everest
Colin Everest
9 years ago

What is the point fining a public owned, non profit organisation? Surely all it does is put our Council tax up.

Ray R
Ray R
9 years ago

Agreed, it’s pretty pointless fining a public body but, someone or somebody must be accountable for these failings.

I would like to know why a more senior officer than a PC was not responsible for the training session. Surely it’s not all down to a PC!?

Simon H
Simon H
9 years ago

More like “cowboys and indians” than “cops and robbers”. When will they learn?

Agreed about fining a public body, so why not custodial sentences instead?

Stuart Robertson
Stuart Robertson
9 years ago

Agreed with you all, I’m disgusted that the tax payer is the loser in this decision. As a past shooting team captain the training officer cut the corner and did not take into account the fall out of his actions.

The family are still to sue who bears the financial burden.

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