16 February 2011

Tram death shows up BTP

An inquest into the death of a 30-year old police data handler just over 7 years ago has allowed some catastrophic details to come to light concerning the manner in which British Transport Police's CID officers were rostered. The incident involved a Midlands Metro tram.

Following a Christmas party, 30-year old Cheryl Flanagan was found dead on the Midland Metro tram tracks shortly after being hit by a tram at 2300hrs. She had been arguing with her boyfriend, a police officer. The tram driver saw what he believed to be a bag of sand on the tracks and applied his brakes accordingly, but continued onto the next stop, not considering what he had collided with was a body.

A Midland Metro tram in 2003

Up to this point, a tragic accident, potentially fuelled by alcohol, would be a likely catalyst. However, the manner in which the Police dealt with the incident made matters considerably worse.

For a start, no one from British Transport Police's CID was able to attend as they were all at a Christmas party themselves - every last one of them. Perhaps it was the same one that the deceased had been attending? The only person on duty was a Chief Inspector who, despite requests for backup, received no one.

Eventually a CID officer was sent, but from Bristol, just over 100 miles away, only to be later turned back by a senior officer. This was unfolding as a growing number of onlookers - including Miss Flanagan's parents - waited anxiously for Police assistance at the side of the tracks.

The inquest had been primarily called as there had been some suspicion over Miss Flanagan's death: the deceased's boots had been removed, an ambulance had not immediately been called and an initial request for scenes-of-crimes officers was denied.

The hearing continues.

LEYTR Comment: The facts that most interest us are not in dispute. A young female had been struck by a tram travelling between 25-30mph and lay dead on the tracks. Police assistance was not forthcoming as those allocated the responsibility to investigate had all been given the evening off to attend their Christmas party. This is not some rural backwater, but the West Midlands, home to the country's second-largest conurbation. To have an officer dispatched from a city 100 miles away is laughable. More a token gesture than a serious act. And the tragic irony is that the deceased was connected with the local Police force! It has left many in the West Midlands shocked; if procedures are not in place to afford a member of the Police the dignity and thoroughness required of such an incident, what chance is there for anyone else?


Anonymous said...

Where were the local force?

Anonymous said...

I went to school with cheryl, she had the most caring heart of hearts. Its disgusting how she and her family have been treated