REGARDLESS of putting on a uniform, when it comes to dealing with accidents police officers are still human.
PC Nigel Fawcett-Jones from the roads policing unit has been in the job for 23 years but he said there are two sides to dealing with an accident, the professional side and the personal one.
“If you know it is a fatal collision, the professional side is to gather the evidence a court or coroner would require.
“Investigation and witness statements or even video are important. But of course there is the personal side.
“You know that someone has died in that vehicle or a pedestrian has been run over. Despite their experience and length of time in the police, I think all officers are affected by it. Regardless of putting on a uniform we are all still human and all still have family members.”
He said social media sites have made it difficult because often the family might have an indication that something has happened before the police have formally identified the victim.
But telling the family would always be done in person.
“We know that people don’t set out and never intend going out to kill someone, it just happens.
“They could be breaking the speed limit, have an unsafe vehicle with dangerous parts.
“It is never their intention to go out and cause any harm but due to their lack of care someone does get hurt.
“Of course everyone when they go out has a responsibility to people around them.
“The big ones have been the same for the last 20 years, speed and seatbelts are the things that keep them safe.”
PC Fawcett-Jones said 60 to 70 per cent of his job was dealing with collisions and the rest was related to crime prevention and enforcement.
“The road safety message is always the same. Stick to the speed limit, drive according to conditions, always wear your seatbelt, make sure children are restrained in the car and make sure the vehicle is roadworthy.
“I think road safety week is a good foundation for the education side of things. I know neighbourhood policing teams work hard to deal with concerns of the local community in addressing speeding issues and they are supported by roads policing unit and all go out and take enforcement action.
“People forget behind every collision that there is someone hurt or seriously injured. It has a serious impact on their lives and that is without going to more serious collisions where people lose their lives.
“It is devastating for the family but not only them the school, work colleagues, friends and the whole community.
“People become preoccupied with their own objectives such as getting their children to school, or making sure they get to a meeting they are late for.
“They just think about their objective and not how their actions might have an impact on others.”
He said the road safety charities such as BRAKE and SCARD were also providing support for bereaved relatives in the means of helplines and support as well as West Yorkshire Police’s family liaison officers who are in regular contact with the family for the first seven to ten days and as much as the family wishes after that time.