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Police chief supports campaign

PUBLISHED: 09:17 07 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:42 05 July 2010

HAVING only been established earlier this year, it has been a busy few months for a police unit that plays a vital role.

Supporting The Journal's Save A Life campaign, a leading police chief this week backed calls for drivers to be "more aware" of the potential tragedy they could cause from getting behind the wheel.

HAVING only been established earlier this year, it has been a busy few months for a police unit that plays a vital role.

Supporting The Journal's Save A Life campaign, a leading police chief this week backed calls for drivers to be “more aware” of the potential tragedy they could cause from getting behind the wheel.

Sgt Paul Ward, of Suffolk Police's serious collision investigation team, is part of a unit that investigates collisions resulting in death and provides expert support for many serious injury collisions.

The scene of a collision is treated in the same way as any other serious crime. Forensic evidence is collected at the scene - such as skidmarks and defects - in order to connect those involved in the collision to any vehicles involved, establish the cause and bring the investigation to a satisfactory conclusion.

After being set up as a new team on June 30 this year, Sgt Ward revealed how the team had been established specifically for serious collisions.

“We were quiet all through July, during that time we supported our colleagues on roads policing. Since the end of July we've got busier and busier with three fatal incidents last month and three this month.

“On top of that, we've been involved in a number of other incidents, which were initially reported to us as potentially fatal as well,” he admitted.

As one central team, based at force headquarters in Martlesham, the unit covers the whole of Suffolk. The team is comprised of two senior investigating officers and six crash investigating officers who assess the scene.

“They are trying to draw a picture of what actually happened while examining the vehicle and looking to see if there are any defects, which may have been a factor in the crash, or there may have been a problem with the vehicle” Sgt Ward said.

“This is important that we do this work. A big part of the investigating officers job is to talk to witnesses and take evidence.”

Working closely with the Crown Prosecution Service Sgt Ward said each investigation he'd been part of over the years had varied in timescale.

“The first priority following a serious crash is to save lives and limbs,” he said. “After the fire and ambulance service do their work, the local officers will close the road and protect the scene as much as possible. If we don't do that then we could lose evidence. Investigations vary so much - they can take several months to get all the evidence together, and then going through the court system can take even longer.”

Having worked with Suffolk Police for nearly 23 years, with 12 years of that with the roads policing team, Sgt Ward admitted investigations can take their toll.

Having to deal with many road crashes and collisions over the years Sgt Ward is backing the countywide crackdown, which is driving towards a safer Suffolk.

“We don't have as many fatal crashes as we used to and I'm hoping that driver behaviour has improved to help this,” he said. “Certainly vehicle safety has improved as cars now have airbags and crumple zones, and roads continue to improve as well.

“If there's ever to be a message that needs to go out, let's not accept accidents - lets' all do our bit to avoid them!”

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