Police Ombudsman clears officer of “kamikaze” driving claim

Published Date: 09.11.2021

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has cleared the driver of a police Land Rover of claims that he performed a “kamikaze” driving manoeuvre in Dundonald last year.

A motorist contacted police to report that the Land Rover, which had been travelling in the bus lane towards Newtownards, pulled across both inbound and outbound carriageways without stopping until it reached Dundonald police station.

The complainant also claimed that the Land Rover had “undertaken” him while being driven “illegally” in the bus lane in excess of the local 30mph speed limit. The incident happened in July 2020.

Police referred the complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office for independent investigation.

The complainant subsequently told a Police Ombudsman investigator that he believed the police Land Rover had been travelling at about 35mph in the bus lane when it passed him.

However, the investigator obtained information from the vehicle’s data recorder which contradicted the claims.

Vehicle data recorder contradicted complaint about officer's driving 
The data showed that while crossing the carriageway to pull into Dundonald Police Station, the vehicle’s speed had gradually reduced from 30mph to a stop while it waited to cross the oncoming carriageway. It then accelerated to 8mph before coming to a stop at the station gates.

The investigator also examined information about the vehicle’s speed as it travelled along the Upper Newtownards Road before the manoeuvre. She found that while the Land Rover had on occasion marginally exceeded the speed limit, it had not at any stage reached a speed which would have justified the issuing of a fixed penalty notice.

Further enquiries established that traffic legislation permitted the use of bus lanes by police vehicles.
The investigator also concluded that the police driver had not ‘undertaken’ the complainant as alleged. She noted that the complainant stated only that the Land Rover had passed him in the bus lane, not that it had pulled into the bus lane to pass him before pulling out in front of him again.

The investigator stated that it was not unusual that traffic in the bus lane was travelling more quickly, given that the incident happened shortly before 1pm when that lane was likely to be less congested than others.

Having reviewed all the evidence, the Police Ombudsman investigator determined that the complaint should not be upheld.
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