Police decision to use schoolbus to stop stolen car was 'correct,' investigation finds (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Police decision to use schoolbus to stop stolen car was 'correct,' investigation finds
POLICE who blocked a stolen car with a bus full of children during Appleby Horse Fair did not know there were passengers on board, a review has found.
It was ordered by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Richard Rhodes following criticism from parents of children from Appleby's grammar and primary schools.
The review found that it was only at the end of the incident that officers, who had to make ‘split-second decisions,' became aware there were passengers on board.
And now the seven page report into the force's handling of the situation has found they had acted ‘correctly and proportionately.’
It read: “The fact there were schoolchildren on the bus could not reasonably have been foreseen.
“The size and positioning of the bus, together with the relatively slow speed of the BMW, meant that if police had realised there were passengers on the bus, it would have been reasonable for them to assume they were adequately protected.
“In reality, time would not have allowed for any evacuation of the bus.
“Police officers have a duty to protect the public and uphold the law and both of these were achieved in this instance.”
The event unfolded over a four-minute period on June 7 after a BMW – stolen from the Northumbrian home of then-Sunderland FC striker Stephane Sessegnon - was spotted by police on the town's Bongate at 15.37.
A patrol vehicle with activated blue lights and sirens followed the car towards the town centre but lost sight of it shortly after.
They then saw it again blocked in by a second marked vehicle.
“However, the driver of the BMW reversed into and damaged the first police car before accelerating towards the Sands, which was heavily congested with people on foot,” the report added.
An officer on foot patrol on Battlebarrow believed the vehicle would potentially travel down the crowded street and on to the ‘even more congested Sands’.
To stop it, he and a Bronze Commander ‘instructed a large bus to stop and angle itself partially across the street’.
The driver was arrested at 15.39pm.
Parents with school children on the bus had condemned the decision after some youngsters were left in tears during the incident.
In July, Steven Quinn, 32, of Gretna Road, Carlisle was jailed for 25 months after pleading guilty to handling the £40,000 BMW – knowing it had been stolen a few weeks earlier – dangerous driving, driving without a licence and having no insurance.
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