Norfolk’s police chief has defended the decision to allow an amnesiac officer to continue to carry firearms and drive rapid response cars for 10 years.

PC Karl Warren has been cleared of gross misconduct after being involved in a hit-and-run collision when he drove into the back of a female motorist at 50mph on the A146 near Beccles in 2022.

An independent misconduct panel accepted the expert medical evidence that the officer had been suffering a form of epileptic seizure at the time that left him unaware of his surroundings and with no memory of the incident.

Lowestoft Journal: PC Karl Warren was cleared of misconduct after a hit-and-run crashPC Karl Warren was cleared of misconduct after a hit-and-run crash (Image: Newsquest/Norfolk Constabulary)

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However, the panel also heard that the officer had previously suffered an episode of memory loss while on-duty in 2012.

Despite being diagnosed with a form of amnesia at the time and disclosing this to senior officers, he was allowed to remain in his role and later became an officer with the roads and armed policing team.



In an interview with BBC Radio Norfolk's Chris Goreham, chief constable Paul Sanford defended the decision to allow him to serve as a firearms officer.

He also insisted that no changes were needed to avoid similar incidents in the future, saying the crash "could not have been predicted".

Mr Sanford said that following the "neurological episode” in 2012, PC Warren had been seen by a doctor and “cleared to drive and cleared to carry firearms”.

“A neurological consultant told the hearing conclusively that the incident that occurred 2012 was unexpected, the chances of it ever happening again were expected to be vanishingly low and it didn’t happen again,” he added.  

Lowestoft Journal: Chief constable Paul Sanford said evidence that the driver had suffered an epileptic episode was overwhelmingChief constable Paul Sanford said evidence that the driver had suffered an epileptic episode was overwhelming (Image: Jason Bye)

“What subsequently happened was the officer had an epileptic seizure. They were two very different events. 

“We fully checked the officer after the incident in 2012 and he was fully cleared to drive by doctors, by experts.” 

Mr Sanford said all firearms officers undergo regular medical checks to make sure they are fit to carry weapons and drive high-powered response vehicles. 

He said despite this case he saw “no need” to change force regulations or policy over how it undertakes fitness checks on firearms officers which are “already strong and robust.”

“We rigorously medically assess all our officers who carry firearms. That is set to a standard that is set nationally,” he said. 

“The epileptic episode that the officer had could not have been predicted.”



Criminal charges were initially brought against PC Warren after he failed to stop after driving into the back of an Audi A1 on the A146 at Barnby, near Beccles, in March 2022.

But they were later discontinued by the Crown Prosecution Service following the provision of medical evidence. 

Lowestoft Journal: A Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team (RAPT) vehicle crashing into the back of an Audi on the A146A Norfolk and Suffolk Roads and Armed Policing Team (RAPT) vehicle crashing into the back of an Audi on the A146 (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

Lowestoft Journal: The shaken woman driving the Audi pulls over following the crashThe shaken woman driving the Audi pulls over following the crash (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

Lowestoft Journal: The police BMW X5 armed response vehicle continues without stoppingThe police BMW X5 armed response vehicle continues without stopping (Image: Norfolk Constabulary)

The constabulary’s misconduct investigation found the officer had no case to answer, based on the same medical evidence, but the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which upheld a complaint from the Audi driver, recommended he should face gross misconduct proceedings.

The independent disciplinary panel accepted expert evidence from consultant neurologist Dr Pablo Garcia Reitboeck who concluded that at the time of the 2022 crash the officer would not have been aware of his surroundings.

Harry Ireland, the panel’s legally qualified chair, said: “Dr Reitboeck stated that it remained his opinion that the officer had no control over the car when he collided with the car in front of him and was not aware of what was happening due to him suffering a neurological event, namely an epileptic seizure.”

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There is no evidence that PC Warren suffered any incidents of memory loss between 2012 and March 2022 and police have previously said they have no concerns about any of the other cases he has been involved with in his career.

Following the misconduct hearing, Mr Sanford said “what happened two years ago should not have happened” but denied there had been a “cover-up”.

Lowestoft Journal: The crash happened on the A146 Barnby Bends between Lowestoft and BecclesThe crash happened on the A146 Barnby Bends between Lowestoft and Beccles (Image: Newsquest)

During the misconduct investigation it emerged that a video recording of PC Warren first being questioned about the collision, during which he said he had no recollection of it, was not saved by officers after it was marked as “non-evidential”.

But Mr Sanford said: “Throughout this case, we’ve followed procedure, responded proportionately, been open and honest with the victim and shared all relevant information with them, as we would in any case.”

He added: “As I’ve previously stated, I am sorry this incident happened. When we get things wrong, it’s important we take appropriate action, and my officers fully expect to be held accountable for their actions. 

“However, the evidence presented about the driver’s neurological condition has been overwhelming."



PC Warren remains employed by Norfolk police but since the collision he has “effectively been on station duties”, said Mr Sanford.

“As soon as this happened he had his driving permit suspended and as it happens because of his epilepsy he cannot drive now in any event,” he said.

“He was a firearms officer and he can no longer carry out that role. He has continued to work for us but it has had a profound impact on him.”

The disciplinary proceedings had been told he has since been formally diagnosed with a form of epilepsy and has continued to suffer seizures.

Lowestoft Journal: PC Ryan Hargrave who was a passenger in the car was given a written warning at a separate misconduct casePC Ryan Hargrave who was a passenger in the car was given a written warning at a separate misconduct case (Image: Newsquest)

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A second officer PC Ryan Hargrave, who was a passenger in the car with PC Warren at the time of the crash, was given a written warning for not reporting the incident immediately, following a separate misconduct meeting in October.

Mr Sanford said there has since been a change in his role and that his “duties will be continually reviewed”.

The chief constable said he remained committed to rooting out misconduct with 12 officers found guilty of wrongdoing having been dismissed from the force since 2022.

“We take allegations of misconduct extremely seriously and have robust measures in place to identify and investigate,” he said. 

“It’s inevitable there will be further headlines but if you look you find. And I think perhaps in the past policing didn’t look hard enough.

"We are now and I will take the action when it is required. With PC Karl Warren that was not the case.”



In the interview, Mr Sanford also criticised the EDP, which first broke the story of the case.

He said: "For the past two years that officer has been through an incredibly difficult time. Frankly he has been vilified in the local written press, unfairly so, and it is right that the correct verdict was heard."

He added: "The coverage of the Karl Warren case has been completely disproportionate.

"[The police] need to be held to account but you do it in the right way. You don’t vilify them, you don’t mock them, you don’t doubt their testimony."



Paul Sanford, Norfolk's chief constable, had certainly had his Weetabix today.

During an early morning interview on BBC Radio Norfolk he was quizzed adroitly by presenter Chris Goreham on the so-called 'amnesiagate' scandal. And he came out fighting.

The day before, PC Karl Warren - who drove his patrol car into the back of a motorist on the A146 at 50mph before driving off without stopping - was cleared by a misconduct panel.

It accepted medical evidence that the officer had been suffering from an epileptic seizure at the time, meaning he had no memory of the incident.

On the radio, Mr Sanford was commendably supportive of his vindicated officer. But he also came out swinging for the EDP, which first revealed the story to the public.

Citing no evidence, Mr Sanford claimed that PC Warren had been "vilified in the local written press". Our coverage of the case, Mr Sanford said, had been "completely disproportionate". This cannot go unchallenged.

There has been no vilification here. We have accurately reported the evidence as it has emerged.

And the day we start to take guidance from the police about what coverage is "proportionate" is the day we stop publishing.

As Mr Goreham stressed in the interview, the people of Norfolk deserve an explanation as to what happened on the A146 on May 5, 2022.

Without this newspaper, they would not have had one. It may have been an uncomfortable experience for the force and the officer concerned - as it was for the victim herself - but it has been a necessary process.

We wish PC Warren well. We support the work of the police, as we often stress in these very pages.

We also support the ongoing efforts of Mr Sanford to identify and remove rogue officers.

Incidentally, the chief constable has declined repeated requests for interviews with the EDP. We hope he accepts one soon.