Training exercise accident leads to police constable being shot dead… The HSE is set to charge Greater Manchester Police and two of their officers after a 32 year-old PC was fatally shot after a training exercise went wrong in June 2008.
The Crown Prosecution Service had indicated that there was “insufficient evidence” to proceed with a full criminal investigation but the HSE feel that there is grounds for prosecution of the police force and two of their trainers under health and safety laws.
The HSE released a statement explaining their decision:
“A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation has concluded that there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest to prosecute the force and two of its training staff for alleged criminal offences under the Health and Safety at Work (etc) Act 1974.”
Under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act employers are expected to take measures to ensure the safety of their employees and the HSE has decided to charge the officer who led the training course and one of the safety officers who was present on the day of the shooting under section seven of the act which relates to employees’ responsibilities.
The Assistant Chief Constable of GMP said the force had already responded to the tragedy:
“Since Ian’s death we have made a number of changes to the way in which we train officers to ensure that all firearm training exercises are carried out in the safest possible way by reinforcing procedures and existing policies.”
He added that eight officers had misconduct charges being investigated relating to the tragic accident:
“We cannot make a decision as to when these matters will be dealt with until we have seen the full disclosure files from the HSE for this case.”
PC Terry died on 9 June 2008 following the shooting accident during a training exercise involving the force’s firearms division at a disused factory in Newton Heath.
He was not wearing body armour when he was shot in the stomach at close range by an officer using an ammunition called Round Irritant Personnel which is usually not designed to kill but can be deadly when fired at close range.
An inquest in 2010 had ruled that PC Terry had been “unlawfully killed”. The jurors were critical of both the specialist firearms unit and how the training exercise was planned and carried out. However a case review by the Crown Prosecution Service in early March 2012 decided not to go ahead and press criminal charges against the officers involved and now the HSE are making their case for prosecution on health and safety grounds. If the Greater Manchester Police are found guilty of breaching health and safety laws they will be ordered to pay a substantial fine.