Dushal Mehta discusses importance of police evidence in civil claims to the Police and Crime Committee | Fieldfisher
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Dushal Mehta discusses importance of police evidence in civil claims to the Police and Crime Committee

Dushal Mehta

Dushal Mehta sat on the panel called by the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee to investigate how the Met Police respond and approach investigating serious injury collisions in London.

The remit of the Committee is to examine the work of the Mayor and his Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC), to make sure he is delivering on his promises to Londoners. It also publishes findings and recommendations from its investigations with the aim of influencing the Mayor.

Areas of focus of the meeting included the level of support provided to victims of serious injury collisions and their families, training, communication, transparency and accountability of Met investigations, whether such investigations are given priority and whether victims of serious injury collisions be treated as victims of crime.

In his experience of acting for victims of catastrophic incidents on the road, Dushal was in a perfect position to explain to the Committee the impact of aspects of police investigations such as witness statements and accurate reports from the scene on civil claims and, in turn, on enabling access to vital, private rehabilitation to get the injured back as far as possible to their previous life. 

A lack of evidence from the scene can severely impact any civil claim. The police investigation and evidence can help secure vital interim funds desperately needed to pay for specialist medical care and rehabilitation. Without early rehabilitation the victim stands a far reduced chance of a positive future. 

At a recent seminar at Fieldfisher's offices, guest speakers including a trauma surgeon, barrister and forensic investigator pushed home how important early access to police evidence is on a successful civil claim. The content from the seminar was extremely pertinent to the discussions by the Committee on how the police can better serve victims of road crashes.

Recommendations from the meeting will follow but key to improvements in the way serious injury collisions are investigated must include:

  • Better training for borough staff and those attending scenes.
  • Minimum standards around what basic investigations and evidence should be gathered at the scene.
  • Better knowledge and training around what can be disclosed, that should feed into national guidance.
  • Better communication with families and victims about the police investigation and what to expect in terms of their investigations and process.
  • Ensuring all the evidence from witnesses and CCTV is gathered and why it is so important.
  • Collaboration between the police and other interested parties such as road safety charities and lawyers over processes and what more can be done to help investigations.

While we mark Road Safety Week, it's important to remember that how victims are treated by the police plays a big part in how they will recover – not only in terms of enabling civil claims to compensate the victim for any losses, but also to ensure they get justice where the defendant driver is found culpable. 

Watch trauma surgeon Ross Davenport explain the importance of accessing private rehab for seriously injured patients. 

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