Page last updated at 13:30 GMT, Friday, 24 June 2005 14:30 UK

Life after a police crash

Alexis Akwagyiram
BBC News

Sadie Stevens
Sadie had her right leg amputated after the February 2004 accident

New figures reveal that the number of people killed or injured in collisions involving police cars rose 60% in England and Wales last year.

BBC News spoke to Brian Stevens, whose daughter was hit by an unmarked police car last year.

It is a familiar sight across the country - the blur of a speeding car and the distinctive sound of a siren can leave no doubt that the police are on their way to an emergency.

But sometimes the dash to a trouble spot can have devastating effects, causing injuries and even deaths when collisions occur.

Home Office figures reveal that more than 2,000 casualties resulted from collisions with police cars in the 12 months to April 2004.

Brian Stevens, 54, says his daughter, Sadie, is proof of the damage that can be caused by speeding police cars.

She was struck by the unmarked police car in February last year driven by Pc James Hibbert, of West Midlands Police.

I would like to see the government clamp down on this type of driving
Brian Stevens

Sadie, who was 11 years old at the time, had to have her right leg amputated below the knee after being hit while walking on a pedestrian crossing on the A34 in Newtown, Birmingham.

The accident also left the girl with a broken left leg, as well as serious head and arm injuries.

"Sadie was a lovely, healthy child and she has been reduced to someone who will have to struggle for the rest for the rest of her life unnecessarily," said Mr Stevens, a steel worker from Newtown.

"We all admire her for the way she bounced back but she will have to go through this for the rest of her life."

And Mr Stevens says the ordeal is not over for his daughter, who is now 13.

More operations

"She still has to have more operations on her left leg because a steel plate that was inserted needs to be removed and replaced with bone from her pelvis.

"And, almost 18 months after the accident, my family still hasn't recovered properly."

Sadie Stevens
Sadie, now 13, faces more operations on her left leg
Pc Hibbert and a colleague had been responding to reports of an armed robbery in nearby Smethwick when the collision occurred.

The policeman admitted driving without due care and attention - he was fined 400 and ordered to pay 700 in costs when he appeared at Birmingham magistrates court in February.

This angered Mr Stevens who said: "The punishment he received made me feel sick - it isn't enough.

"Even if you are going to an emergency, you should have to stick to the laws of the road and drive safely.

Apology

"If it was a member of the public they would have been arrested and breathalysed, but the police look after themselves.

"He mowed my daughter down and she had to pay for his poor decision-making."

In March Chief Supt John Colston, of West Midlands Police, apologised to the Stevens family in an interview for BBC's Inside Out programme.

Speaking on the programme, which was aired on BBC One, he said: "I have no problem in apologising to Mr and Mrs Stevens and Sadie.

"I will be quite prepared to do that on a personal basis if that helps them to deal with the anguish they have gone through."

Clampdown call

But Mr Stevens said that, rather than making apologies after the event, more needed to be done to tackle the causes of the type of accident.

"I would like to see the government clamp down on this type of driving," said Mr Stevens.

"We know police have to be in certain situations in time, but extreme use of speed should be banned. They should follow the rules of the road.

"I will keep fighting for police to use the road as a usual person does, with health and safety paramount in their minds."



SEE ALSO
Police apology for girl's injury
07 Mar 05 |  West Midlands
Fine for Pc after girl loses leg
21 Feb 05 |  West Midlands
Judge overturns anonymity for Pc
14 Dec 04 |  West Midlands
Officer charged over Sadie crash
01 Sep 04 |  West Midlands
Police accident girl returns home
06 Mar 04 |  West Midlands
Girl hit by police car loses leg
17 Feb 04 |  West Midlands

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