PC smashed into cars as he led colleagues on high-speed chase (2022)

A police officer who had been "worn down" by racial abuse he received on the job led his colleagues on a high-speed chase in which he smashed into two cars and injured another driver. Cliff Young had worked for Avon and Somerset Police for two years when he got behind the wheel of his mum's car drunk after pressures at work had led him to consider taking his own life.

Over the course of the pursuit, which lasted just three minutes, Young, of Stonebridge Park, Bristol crashed into two other vehicles at high speeds before stopping on the hard shoulder of a motorway after the damage to his own car meant he was unable to drive any further. Alcohol bottles, one of which was completely empty, were found in the car following his arrest, while the vehicles he had hit were written off with a driver left injured.

Details of the incident, which happened nearly two years ago, were heard by Cardiff Crown Court on Wednesday, August 8, where Young, who no longer works for the police force, appeared for sentencing. The 31-year-old had previously pleaded guilty to the charge of dangerous driving in May 2022, with the postal requisition only submitted earlier that month.

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Cat Jones, prosecuting, told the court that at 11.25pm on Saturday, September 26 2020, an officer from Avon and Somerset Police saw Young driving a red Nissan Micra erratically through an area of Bristol. They attempted to pull the defendant over in a marked police car, with its blue lights activated, but he did not stop and drove off, with the officer calling for assistance as they were not pursuit trained.

Less than quarter of an hour later, at 11:38pm, Young was seen by another officer driving at speed without its lights on down Romney Avenue. He was driving towards the officer, who stopped the police vehicle he was in to avoid a collision, before mounting the pavement and driving around the vehicle to evade police.

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A pursuit then ensued, with Young swerving around a marked police van and driving on the wrong side of the road at speed before jumping a red light as he turned onto Muller Road. As he turned, he collided with a stationary red Citroen that had been waiting at the traffic lights on the opposite side of the road.

Ms Jones added that, after hitting the car at speed, the defendant then reversed and continued to drive along the road, heading towards the M32 while swerving and travelling at speeds of 70mph, more than double the speed limit of 30mph. The pursuing officer briefly lost sight of the Micra, but as they approached the M32 roundabout they saw that it had collided with another vehicle, this time a dark coloured SUV. The impact of this second collision had caused the SUV to "spin around 180 degrees" and was now facing in the opposite direction to the traffic.

Young still continued to drive, however, and carried on to the M32 slip road. However, the impact of the second collision had left his car too damaged to drive at speed, with police able to catch up with him. He came to a stop on the hard shoulder of the motorway, and despite initially resisting arrest and being 'red-dotted' by a police Taser, he was detained and arrested at the roadside.

His car was then searched and a bottle of Cognac that was two-thirds empty, as well as an empty bottle of XF strawberry flavoured alcohol was discovered within the vehicle. As he was arrested, the defendant was reportedly "extremely upset and crying, apologising for his actions and hoping nobody got hurt”.

The defendant had no previous convictions before appearing at Cardiff Crown Court, other than a caution for shoplifting in 2021. He was disqualified from driving in September 2021, nearly a year after the incident, but this disqualification expired in January.

In a victim impact statement read to the court by Ms Jones, the driver of the first car hit by Young, Ahmed Abdi, said he had suffered whiplash and a knee injury as a result of the collision, which saw him prescribed painkillers and left him unable to work for weeks. He added that he “no longer enjoys” driving and finds it difficult to drive at night or above 30mph, having experienced repeated flashbacks of the incident.

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As a result of being unable to work, he estimates he lost around £2,000 in wages, while his car was completely written off, forcing him to replace it and spend £260 on public transport in the intervening period. In total, his losses were estimated to be over £6,000.

In mitigation, defence counsel Thomas Stanway said that his client had suffered with his mental health and on the night of the incident, believed “the only way out” was to get behind the wheel of his mother's car having been drinking and drive to the M32, where he intended to take his own life.

He said that the father of two had worked as a police officer with Avon and Somerset Police since 2018 and was “proud and wanted to make a difference” in his job. He had even received a commendation from the force for saving a woman who had tried to take her own life.

However, the job gradually began to “get him down”. He was the only black officer working at his station at the time of the offence and worked in a predominantly white area of Bristol. He worked long shifts and received racial abuse “on an almost daily basis”, leading him to feel isolated and “breaking down to his sergeant”.

Mr Stanway added that his client admitted he had been “naïve” to think he could deal with the problems on his own, and that his issues at work had led to the breakdown of his relationship with his partner. The defence counsel remarked that the mental health issues that Young experienced were “all too prevalent in young men,” but added that they were being increasingly addressed through changes in society.

Having "spiralled", he got behind the wheel of the car while drunk and led his colleagues on the force on a high-speed pursuit as he headed towards the M32. Mr Stanway commented that his client “bitterly regretted” his actions, which were “wholly out of character”.

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He added: “This incident is now nearly two years old. Mr Young has used this incident as a wake up call to turn his life around. He realised that alcohol was his crutch and is now teetotal. He also began a 10 week course of counselling following the incident and sought help from his GP.

"He left his role in the police relatively swiftly following the incident and now works part-time as a personal trainer. He has also reconciled with his partner and has moved back into the family home with his two daughters."

Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke said she had taken into account the defendant’s previous good character, mental health issues and steps he had taken to turn his life around when considering her sentence.

Young was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months. He will be made to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work in the community and will pay costs of £420 as well as a victim surcharge. He was also disqualified for two years and will have to pass an extended driving test before he can get a licence.

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FAQs

Who pays for damage caused by police chase UK? ›

Police forces do sometimes pay compensation3 or make ex-gratia payments following damage to doors. If the police refuse to pay compensation, it might be possible to bring a civil claim against them for damages.

What happens if someone hits your car in a police chase? ›

All motorists owe a duty of care to other road users, and the dangerous driving behavior of a chase can be seen as a breach of that duty. The suspect can be named in a lawsuit if he or she collided with another car, or even if the suspect's illegal maneuvers caused injuries or property damage.

What is the best car for police chase? ›

Top 4 Police & Law Enforcement Vehicles of 2021
  • 2021 Dodge Durango Police. If you're looking for a special service vehicle that has it all, the 2021 Dodge Durango SSV Police has you covered. ...
  • 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicle. ...
  • 2021 Ram 1500 Special Service Vehicle. ...
  • 2021 Dodge Charger Pursuit.

What happens if you run from the police in a car and get away UK? ›

Key things to remember when stopped by police

If you run away or don't stop when directed to stop, you commit an offence of obstructing police and you may be arrested.

Can I claim compensation from the police? ›

You can also seek police compensation if you work for the police. If you are a Police officer and have witnessed Police negligence you can make a claim. If it is you that has suffered due to negligence such as being injured whilst at work, then you have the right to make a claim.

What is criminal damage to a car? ›

Vandalism, which is intentionally causing damage to another person's property, is a criminal offence and it's estimated that up to thirty per cent of motorists – and their cars – per year are victims of it. Offences include bodywork being keyed, dented, and damaged with graffiti, and windows being smashed.

Can you get pulled over for driving a damaged car? ›

Laws About Damaged Vehicles

Depending on your local state driving laws, you may be pulled over and ticketed for not following road safety protocols.

What happens if you accidentally hit someone with your car? ›

Drivers who strike pedestrians can face criminal and civil consequences. Depending on the circumstances of the crash, criminal penalties might include incarceration (prison or jail), probation, restitution (victim compensation), a driver's license suspension, and fines.

How long does it take for insurance to pay out for theft? ›

Once liability has been admitted and enough evidence has been produced for the claim to be quantified, your insurer should settle the claim within three months.

What's the most common police car? ›

With the discontinuation of the Taurus, Impala, and Caprice, the police fleet market as of 2022 is dominated by crossovers and SUVs, with the Ford Explorer, Chevrolet Tahoe, and Dodge Durango predominantly marketed alongside similar models.

What do cops call their cars? ›

A police car (also called a police cruiser, police interceptor, patrol car, cop car, prowl car, squad car, radio car, or radio motor patrol (RMP)) is a ground vehicle used by the police for transportation during patrols and to enable them to respond to incidents and chases.

Why are police cars so fast? ›

According to the McNally institute, most police cars have what is called engine tuning, which basically shores up their performances. This would enable them to be on track to outrun most civilian cars if need be. In the same regard, most police cars have V6 engines, while some have V8 engines.

How can police prove who was driving? ›

Under section 11 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 (RTOA), a certificate can be used to prove the identity of the driver, user or owner of a vehicle in certain circumstances.

Does a police car have to pull you over for speeding UK? ›

If you've been caught speeding with a hand-held device, or one installed in a moving police car, you could be asked to stop there and then. In this case, the police have two options: they can either give you a verbal warning and send you on your way, or they can issue you with a fixed penalty notice (FPN).

How do you check if my car is marked by police? ›

There is no way for the general public to find out if a vehicle has a marker registered on the Police National Database sadly. This information is only available to the Police.

What is the most common complaint against police? ›

5. The most common complaint concerns excessive use of force. 6. Complaints of excessive use of force are usually sustained less often than other types of complaints.

What are basic damages? ›

Basic Damages

They are meant to compensate you for the actual loss and injury you suffered as a result of the police's actions and put you in the position as if the police misconduct never happened. Basic damages can include (not all may apply): General damages. Loss of reputation.

Who pays for compensatory damages? ›

In a civil lawsuit, the defendant bears the responsibility for paying compensatory damages. If the defendant has insurance coverage, the insurer typically pays the damages directly to the plaintiff. This may also occur through an out-of-court settlement.

What happens if you destroy someones car? ›

A conviction could result in a felony, which could mean time in jail and a significant legal fine.

Is keying a car illegal? ›

Keying a Car: Don't Do It

It most definitely is a crime. Depending on the value of damage you cause to a car, you could be charged with simple vandalism or a serious felony. Regardless, the punishment if you're caught probably isn't worth the momentary satisfaction of revenge.

How long do you go to jail for criminal damage? ›

The offence of criminal damage is an either way offence which attracts a maximum sentence of 10 years' imprisonment.

Can I sue the police for negligence? ›

When can I sue the police for negligence? The law allows you to sue the police if they are negligent in the way they carry out their normal work. So, for example, you can sue the police if a police car knocks you down.

What can you do if police won't help UK? ›

In England and Wales, you can complain through the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC for short), which will make sure your complaint gets to the right people. To do this you can: use the “Complain to the force directly” drop-down tool on the IOPC website to select the relevant local police force.

What happens when you file a complaint against a police officer? ›

The OIPRD, the police service involved, or a different police service may be chosen to investigate. In most cases, the OIPRD will assign the police service involved to conduct the investigation. The OIPRD will also provide you with updates about the status of your complaint.

Do the police have a duty of care? ›

The police owe — like any other public body, business or individual — a duty of care to members of the public. However, like other emergency services or the medical profession, they are given greater protection by the courts where injury is caused by their actions.

How long do you have to make a claim against the police? ›

You have 6 years to make a claim for wrongful arrest or false imprisonment. However, you only have 3 years if you are making a personal injury claim. If you are making a complaint against the police, you only have one year.

What constitutes gross misconduct in the police? ›

What is gross misconduct? Gross misconduct is any behaviour, whether on or off duty, that constitutes a breach of the Standards of Professional Behaviour that is so serious as to justify dismissal.

How do you take an action against the police? ›

One is to make a complaint against a police officer. Most complaints are initially investigated by the police professional standards departments. There may then be a right of appeal to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. Another route is to threaten or issue a claim in the County or High Court.

What is the most common complaint against police? ›

5. The most common complaint concerns excessive use of force. 6. Complaints of excessive use of force are usually sustained less often than other types of complaints.

Can police prosecute if victim doesn't press charges UK? ›

In fact, even if you decide that you do not want to press charges from the outset, or you decide you no longer want to, the Crown prosecutor may still pursue the case. Assault is taken very seriously by the police and by our court system.

How do you know if the police are investigating you UK? ›

Although police investigations begin from the initial report of an allegation, an individual will only know that they are being investigated once the police have contacted them. This can either be once the individual has been arrested or if they are contacted to attend a voluntary interview with the police.

How long can police investigate you for? ›

There is no general time limit for how long a police investigation can stay open in England and Wales. For summary only offences, which are heard in the Magistrates' Court, the case must be heard within twelve months of the crime.

What happens if a complaint is exaggerated? ›

f an individual exaggerates in his or her complaint to the police, one can face serious consequences like going to prison or being fined for lying. Explanation: As responsible individuals, we should always speak the truth and never lie in any situation.

How do you know if you are being watched by police? ›

You are visited or contacted by the police – The most common way to tell if the police are investigating you is if they confront you personally. You may find police showing up at your home, place of work, or reaching out to you by phone to ask questions about a criminal case.

Do you have to give police your name? ›

You DO NOT have to give your name and address unless the officer points out an offence he / she suspects you have committed. However, not providing your details may lead to you being detained for longer.

Can the police section someone? ›

What is section 136? Section 136 allows the police to take you to (or keep you at) a place of safety. They can do this without a warrant if: you appear to have a mental disorder, AND.

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