An off-duty detective undertook a “” pursuit of a motorbike which then crashed – leaving a woman with “life-changing” injuries.
Detective constable Paul Yates, who wasn’t qualified or authorised to take part in pursuits, was found guilty of gross misconduct by a tribunal.
The misconduct hearing heard how DC Yates, 45, had been off-duty and driving his own vehicle, in Widnes on April 4, 2019.
The officer, who works for Greater Manchester Police (GMP), spotted a motorbike, which undertook him on Birchfield Road, a 30mph zone.
The bike was displaying learner plates and carrying a passenger, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, in breach of the law.
DC Yates accelerated his vehicle to 37mph and pulled alongside the motorbike and attempted to get it to stop.
The motorbike drove off before the officer pulled alongside it again and identified himself, placing himself “on-duty”, the tribunal heard.
Matthew Holdcroft, AA counsel, said that while there may be a “moral” obligation for a member of the public to stop, there is no legal obligation to stop for an officer who’s not in a marked police car or not in uniform.
When the bike drove off again, it was then DC Yates decided to started the pursuit, Mr Holdcroft said.
Dashcam footage showed how DC Yates accelerated his vehicle to 44mph and crossed over to the opposite carriageway and drove along it, passing the central reservation.
The manoeuvre was described as “reckless and dangerous” and “not justified or proportionate” by Mr Holdcroft, as well as inconsistent with national guidelines.
DC Yates returned his vehicle to correct side of the carriageway but the motorcycle accelerated away through traffic with the driver’s style of driving said “to have changed as a result of the officer’s actions”.
Mr Holdcroft said the officer continued the pursuit, even though there was “no realistic prospect” he could have got the bike to stop and it should have ended.
DC Yates then went through red-light on a pedestrian crossing but the motorbike sped-off on the wrong side of carriageway.
The bike was subsequently involved a collision a short time later, leaving the female passenger with “life changing injuries”.
The tribunal heard that DC Yates had undertaken driver and response training in November 2016 and February 2017.
Mr Holdcroft said “in certain circumstances” that meant he was “entitled to rely on certain exemptions that apply to officers that are driving for a police purpose”.
But the training didn’t mean DC Yates was “qualified or authorised to engage in a pursuit”.
Moreover, there was specific guidance for officers in relation to the pursuit of motorcycles because it was “obvious” riders and their passengers were particularly vulnerable.
Nicholas Walker, counsel for DC Yates, said that the 75-second dashcam footage only provided a snapshot of what happened although the officer accepted he had “overstepped the mark”.
The officer had been right to have to have suspicions about the motorbike, due the “standard and manner” it was being driven, he said.
DC Yates had the “best intentions” and the pursuit had been short, he said, and “you could not say that the officer’s driving was in any way causative of the accident itself”.
Although he accepted DC Yates had breached his duties and responsibilities, his actions did not amount to discreditable conduct and the CPS had decided to take no further action against him.
Mr Walker also read out testimonials from colleagues to the “hard-working” and dedicated DC Yates.
Tribunal chair Paul Forster ruled the officer’s actions amounted to gross misconduct and he should be given a written warning.
Greater Manchester Police
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