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Norfolk call handlers criticised by watchdog for roles in lead up to fatal police van crash

PUBLISHED: 18:12 18 October 2018

The scene in Wymondham Road in Hethel, near Norwich, where Helen Loveday was struck by a marked police van responding to a 999 call. PIC: Joe Giddens PA Wire/PA Images

The scene in Wymondham Road in Hethel, near Norwich, where Helen Loveday was struck by a marked police van responding to a 999 call. PIC: Joe Giddens PA Wire/PA Images

PA Wire/PA Images

Two call handlers have been criticised by a police watchdog for the roles they played prior to a fatal crash where a missing woman was struck by officers who had been looking for her.

Helen Loveday, 52, who died after she was struck by a police van in Wymondham Road in Hethel, Norfolk. Picture:  Loveday Family /PA WireHelen Loveday, 52, who died after she was struck by a police van in Wymondham Road in Hethel, Norfolk. Picture: Loveday Family /PA Wire

Helen Loveday, 52, was hit by a police van while walking in Wymondham Road, Hethel, at around 10.20pm on July 27 last year.

Ms Loveday, from Leicestershire, had been staying with her sister in Wreningham but left after becoming upset.

She was airlifted to hospital by the Duke of Cambridge on his final shift as an air ambulance pilot but died two days later at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

A jury at a Norwich Coroner’s Court concluded accidental death on Friday (October 18).

A spokesman for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which has completed an investigation, said: “Our investigation concluded that a call operator may not have complied with force policy which could constitute misconduct, and the performance of a second call handler could be considered unsatisfactory.

“The force identified that the two issues could best be dealt with as a performance issue and the call handlers will receive additional training.”

A police spokesman said it had been a “difficult case” and added thoughts remained with her family and friends.

“Ms Loveday lost her life in the most tragic of circumstances. The very two officers responding to the 999 call found themselves in the most inconceivable of situations; involved in the death of someone they were trying to help.”

They added: “The investigation highlighted issues surrounding information sharing practices within the control room. These were acted on immediately, with additional training put in place to ensure calls are recorded appropriately.”

The inquest heard the “most likely explanation” for the van striking Ms Loveday was “that in her depressed and intoxicated state she took the decision to walk out in front of the vehicle”. It also heard that for the driver there had been “insufficient time and distance in which to react and avoid a collision”.

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