TWO of South Yorkshire’s specialist police drivers have been banned from the roads for eight months after a motorway smash in which they both collided with a car carrying five children.
PC Paul Salveson and DC Anthony Perkins were travelling in separate cars along the M1 in April when PC Salveson, 40, collided with a people carrier containing five children aged two to 11.
It remains unclear what caused the collision between the unmarked Seat and Fatima Zahoor’s Alhambra, but both were badly damaged and slewed sideways across the road.
Just over 30 seconds later DC Perkins, 53, driving an unmarked BMW, collided with the people carrier with such force some of the children were thrown from the car, including an 11-year-boy who ended up in the central reservation.
Patrick Gallagher, prosecuting, said: “Mercifully no-one was killed but several people were injured.”
The 11-year-old boy suffered head injuries while Mrs Zahoor, who had been travelling from London to Bradford, had a broken arm. DC Perkins suffered a broken ankle.
Following the crash in the early hours an investigation was launched by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Investigators found ‘no defects on the road surface or any of the vehicles that caused or contributed to the collision’. Both police officers were charged with careless driving and both pleaded guilty at Leeds Crown Court.
DC Perkins said he came across the wreckage of the crash after coming out of an overtaking manoeuvre, and there was not enough time to brake.
When the South Yorkshire Police officers were interviewed they both maintained their driving was appropriate to the road conditions.
They are trained as surveillance drivers - highly specialised officers with duties including the covert surveillance of criminals and gangs.
Samuel Green, defending DC Perkins, said: “They were speeding and they shouldn’t have been doing so. But they weren’t louts going for a spin, these were hard-nosed operational police travelling between efforts to bring criminals to book.”
In addition to their driving bans, PC Salveson was fined £400 and PC Perkins £500. Recorder of Leeds, Peter Collier QC, told the court lawyers for the officers had called for them to be spared bans on the grounds it would do the public a disservice if they could not do their jobs.
But he said: “As police officers you are expected to set an example rather than breaking the law.