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Friday, 28 November 2014

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£36m cost of death crashes in Cumbria

Every fatal crash costs the public purse around £1.2 million, a Cumbria police expert has revealed.

Road crash photo
Every fatal road traffic accident in Cumbria is estimated to cost £1.2m

PC Mark Dempster, a collision investigator, said the estimated bill took stock of the entire process – from the moment emergency services arrive, to potential proceedings at an inquest or criminal court.

PC Dempster told a Safer, Better, Stronger meeting: “When you consider everyone who attends – the police, ambulance paramedics, fire service – through to the people at hospital – doctors, radiographers, nurses – and the knock-on effect to the economic activity of the community when a road is shut for between four and seven hours, you can see how it adds up.”

There were 30 deaths and 164 serious injuries on Cumbria’s roads in 2012.

PC Dempster said his department does not use the word “accident” and has the motto: “Cars don’t kill people, people kill people using cars.”

He said the old-fashioned approach of “brushing it away” and re-opening the road as soon as possible had long since ended. Today, all road deaths are investigated as unlawful killing.

Cumbria has five collision investigators – working at the Penrith HQ and sites in Carlisle, west Cumbria and south Cumbria.

PC Dempster said: “All scenes are secured to prevent the loss of evidence. We only get one shot, because once the road sweeper has been through and the road is handed back to the Highways Agency, that’s it.”

An investigator’s work continues for months with tests, examinations and reconstructions, and the review of witness statements, toxicology reports and post-mortem reports.

During the meeting, Inspector Dave Bosson, head of one of the force’s Road Policing Units, also told of the emotional support provided by family liaison officers to families.

Insp Bosson added: “Somebody has got to be able to knock on the door and tell them their wife is not coming home because they’ve been killed.”

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