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Last Updated: Saturday, 19 November 2005, 14:44 GMT
Police-related road deaths rise
Police car
An independent watchdog wants debate on policing the roads
A record number of people have been killed in road accidents involving police cars, with 44 dead in the past year compared to 36 in 2003-4.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the rise in England and Wales was more than 2.5 times the 17 deaths recorded in 2000-1.

Six deaths involved police vehicles answering 999 calls, 23 were in pursuits and 15 were listed as "other".

The IPCC wants a debate on the risks police should take on the road.

It also released figures which said 106 people died during or after contact with police in the last year, up 24 from the year before.

'Degree of risk'

IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick said: "We are concerned about the increase in the number of road traffic-related deaths.

"This year there were a larger number of people killed but in a lower number of incidents."

He added: "There is an issue for public debate here - when you dial 999 you want the police to get there quickly, but there is a degree of risk involved in that.

"We have to have an intelligent debate about what degree of risk is acceptable and in what circumstances."

A 13-year-old girl was the youngest person to die and the oldest was a 90-year-old woman in Lancashire.

Of the 44 deaths, 23 were in police pursuits, six involved police vehicles answering 999 calls and 15 were listed as "other".

The overall 106 deaths total also included three fatal police shootings.

'Deep regret'

Home Office minister Hazel Blears said: "Everything that can be done must be done to minimise accidents involving police vehicles.

"Such incidents are a very grave matter and any increase is particularly worrying."

Association of Chief Police Officers spokesman and deputy chief constable of Leicestershire David Lindley said: "Acpo deeply regrets any death.

"But it should be recognised that as a 24/7 emergency service the police have millions of interactions with the public, often in difficult circumstances.

"The death of individuals following contact with the police is extremely rare."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Find out what may have contributed to the increase



SEE ALSO:
Inquests into death crash victims
02 Nov 05 |  Southern Counties
Boy, 12, led police on car chase
10 Nov 05 |  Cambridgeshire


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