Met Police pursuit appropriate prior to death of man at Hounslow Railway Station
Metropolitan Police Service officers (MPS) acted appropriately and in line with driving and pursuit policies when pursuing a vehicle prior to the death of a man at Hounslow Railway Station in April 2021, an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has found.
Jafur Saker, 32, died on 20 April (2021) after he came into contact with an electrified railway line, after he exited the vehicle that was being pursued. An inquest, which concluded on Friday (10 March), found Mr Saker’s death was caused by misadventure.
We began our investigation on the day of Mr Saker’s death after the force made a mandatory referral, as the death occurred following police contact. We also investigated complaints made by his family which included the purpose of the pursuit and the time it took for officers to inform them of his death.
We established that the pursuit began shortly after midnight on 20 April after officers attempted to stop a vehicle in Whitton which was suspected of having false vehicle number plates. These plates were registered to a grey Mercedes vehicle and the suspect vehicle was a black Audi. Mr Saker was the sole occupant of the vehicle which failed to stop for police who continued to pursue it.
At approximately 12:15am, Mr Saker exited the Audi before it collided with a metal railing outside the entrance to Hounslow Railway Station. He ran into the station and jumped down onto the railway tracks where he came into contact with an electrified line and sadly died.
The inquest jury concluded the pursuit was proportionate and that officers complied with pursuit and driving policies. They noted it was a 15 minute pursuit during which there were a number of opportunities for Mr Saker to stop. At Hounslow Railway Station he left the vehicle and ventured onto the tracks, despite the evident danger, and his actions were deliberately undertaken.
Our investigation, which concluded in September 2021, found there was no indication any officer involved committed a criminal offence or that they had behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings.
We found the officers acted appropriately and in line with local and national driving and pursuit policies when pursuing the vehicle. We did however find the performance of one officer fell below the expected standard when they made an inappropriate remark after Mr Saker had come into contact with the railway line. We determined this officer should undergo reflective practice in relation to this behaviour.
We also found there was an unnecessary delay in when Mr Saker’s family were informed by police of his death and what they were initially told. We determined this was a failing in service, for which the force have apologised.
IOPC Director Amanda Rowe said: “Our thoughts remain with Mr Saker’s family and friends following their loss. We completed a thorough investigation to establish the circumstances surrounding the force’s contact with Mr Saker prior to his death. While the pursuit of the vehicle was appropriate in the circumstances, the comments made by an officer at the scene were of concern and have been addressed through the reflective practice process. We acknowledge that the force has apologised for the delays in informing Mr Saker’s family about his death, which could only have caused them further distress.”
During our investigation we obtained statements from all the officers involved in the pursuit as well as the officers who attended the scene. Statements were also obtained from Network Rail staff and National Police Air Support officers, as air support was utilised during the pursuit. Body worn video footage was downloaded and reviewed along with footage and audio recording of the pursuit from the police vehicle involved. At the end of the investigation we shared our findings and final report with Mr Saker’s family and the Coroner, who was provided with our evidence to assist with the inquest.