Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Police fail to attend scene of 841 serious traffic accidents in Northern Ireland

EXCLUSIVE

By Claire McNeilly

More than 800 serious road accidents in Northern Ireland were not attended by police last year - a hike of 40% since 2011, the Belfast Telegraph can reveal.

That is more than two incidents every day, or one in every five reported, according to figures obtained from the PSNI.

Last year there were 4,379 accidents where a fatality or serious injury occurred, yet police responded to only 3,538 of them, meaning 841 serious crashes went unattended.

And already this year police have not been present at 585 serious incidents out of a total of 2,653 so far.

The shocking statistics - which show there have been on average almost 5,900 injury collisions annually since 2011 - have been revealed following a Freedom of Information request by this newspaper.

Five years ago there were 3,530 crashes - nearly 10 a day - resulting in fatal or serious injury, but 594 of them (17%) happened without a subsequent police presence.

The data shows that figure rose to 4,379 such collisions - or 12 a day - in 2015, with police not attending 841 fatal or serious incidents (19%).

UUP Policing Board member Ross Hussey said it was "wrong" and "totally unacceptable" for police officers not to attend all serious road accidents and called for an urgent review.

"It is alarming to note that there are a substantial number of serious road accidents where the police have admitted that they didn't attend," he said.

"Police should attend serious incidents and if there is a written policy that they do not then that must be reviewed as a matter of urgency because this cannot be justified."

PSNI Inspector Rosie Leech said officers may not attend a serious crash if it has not been reported to police.

"All fatal road traffic collisions are attended and extensively investigated by police," she said.

"Similarly, all reported serious injury collisions are attended.

"However, there are instances when collisions occur, for example in some single vehicle crashes, where police are not called or advised at the time of the collision, but are subsequently informed.

"In those situations we conduct follow-up investigations, if appropriate."

Ms Leech said that many slight injury collisions were only reported to police afterwards for information purposes.

She added: "Where we are aware of the collision we will attend the scene to ensure all parties are insured and licensed and to investigate any offences that may be disclosed." The data reveals that, on average, there have been more than 4,150 fatal or serious injury collisions every year between 2011 and 2015 - or 11 incidents every day.

SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said it was "extremely concerning" that the PSNI had failed to attend so many road traffic accidents where injury was involved.

"These are not cases of simple collisions where parties exchange details and get on with it; they involved personal injury of which the PSNI must investigate any wrongdoing," he said.

"How many of these people could have been driving dangerously or driving under the influence?

"It's disturbing that so many may be getting away with these crimes while injuring other people due to their negligence.

"The rise in the number of accidents not attended correlates with increasing budget cuts by this Executive, which is creating massive pressures in policing. This will be further compounded by an estimated budget cut of £40m next year."

He added: "The public deserve a better service than this."

DUP MLA Nelson McCausland said most people expected police officers to attend all serious accidents.

"If that is not happening then we have a right to know why," he said.

"With the growth in some areas of crime such as cyber-crime there are new demands on police resources, but issues such as this must not be downgraded."

There have been 23,416 fatal, serious or minor accidents between 2011 and September 30, 2016, as well as 10,512 non-injury collisions, bringing the total reported to police to 33,928.

  • Have you been in a serious accident where the PSNI did not attend? Email cmcneilly@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

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