30/09/2020 from S Yorks police to Mrs Mercer:
I am Assistant Chief Constable David Hartley. I am part of the Senior Command Team in South Yorkshire Police and have responsibility for the Operational Support Unit (OSU) and in particular Roads Policing.
Although we have never met in person, I would like to offer my sincere condolences regarding the tragic death of your husband, Jason on 7th June 2019. It is hard for me to even imagine the grief and trauma you and your family have experienced since then.
Officers from our Serious Collisions Unit and Road Policing Family Liaison support will continue to support you throughout the criminal justice process relating to the driver charged with offences from the collision, who pleaded guilty at Court on 28th September and who will be sentenced in October.
The purpose of this written correspondence relates to your online report of Corporate Manslaughter made to South Yorkshire Police on 27th January 2020. I understand that the Family Liaison Officer, PC Adrian Hill spoke with you on 3rd March 2020 that South Yorkshire Police would not be the lead investigatory agency for the online report that you made.
I write in relation to two issues: whether South Yorkshire Police will investigate the alleged Corporate Manslaughter and whether South Yorkshire Police will record a crime of Corporate Manslaughter.
On 14th July 2020, the force received your email in relation to a lack of contact about your report of Corporate Manslaughter.
A further review of your complaint has taken place with specialist advice sought from South Yorkshire Police Legal Services, our Head of Investigations and our Force Crime Registrar.
The review has considered whether a criminal investigation should be commenced regarding the role of Smart Motorways in the tragic death of Jason, on 7th June 2019. The review determined that this allegation should not be investigated by South Yorkshire Police.
However, we propose to refer this matter to the Health and Safety Executive for their consideration. The Health and Safety Executive can investigate and prosecute allegations of this type. The Health and Safety Executive will make their own decision on whether to investigate and prosecute any offence.
South Yorkshire Police have considered whether an offence of Corporate Manslaughter should be recorded. We have determined that no crime should be recorded. This will not prevent the Health and Safety Executive from investigating (if they choose to do so), but it does mean that the allegation will not be included in crime statistics.
In coming to that decision, we have considered the available evidence (in relation to the offences of Corporate Manslaughter / Gross Negligent Manslaughter, as alleged in your online report) and the Home Office Counting Rules.
The Home Office Counting Rules state that Corporate Manslaughter/Gross Negligence Manslaughter reports should only be recorded once a Coroner’s inquest concludes with a verdict of unlawful killing or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) authorise a charge (or direct that it is not in the public interest to authorise a charge).
Neither of these events has happened at this stage and so the criteria are not met to record a crime.
In the event of developments in the case (such as a decision by the Coroner), a crime can be recorded at a later date.
Police have considered the available evidence and considered whether it is in the balance of probabilities (this means whether it is “more likely than not”) that the offence has been committed. Both Corporate Manslaughter and Gross Negligence Manslaughter have elements in that there must be a duty of care and that there has been a gross breach of that
However, on the evidence available at present: we cannot conclude that, on the balance of probabilities, the collision was caused by a malfunction in the Smart Motorway system or that any individual was negligent.
Referral to the Health and Safety Executive
South Yorkshire Police intend to formally refer your complaint to the Health and Safety Executive.
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Notwithstanding the referral to the Health and Safety Executive, South Yorkshire Police will review the case in light of the Coroner’s Inquest and any other relevant developments.
Assistant Chief Constable
Covid & Special Operations
South Yorkshire PolicePage 3 of 3