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Norfolk police could face civil action after woman hit and killed by police van in Hethel crash

PUBLISHED: 14:43 03 November 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

The family of a woman who was hit and killed by a police van responding to a 999 call to find her are considering civil action.

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 Norwich Coroner’s Court concluded accidental death.

But following last month’s inquest, two call handlers were criticised as part of an investigation which found the handling of a call from a witness to be “totally inadequate”.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) 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.

Solicitors acting on behalf of Ms Loveday’s family are now investigating a possible civil case against the force.

Samantha Thompson, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “We fully appreciate that all involved at Norfolk Police on this night were doing their best to locate Ms Loveday as quickly as possible and ensure that she was safe.

“However, in such emergency situations it is not solely about speed. It is also essential that policies are followed to ensure the best and most appropriate response is provided.

“Sadly that was not done on this occasion and essential information from a key witness was therefore not available to the police team responding in the police van.

“The call from the witness was not dealt with in line with policy or training and this ultimately meant that key information, in that Ms Loveday was in the road in the direction the van was travelling, was not made available to the driver.”

Norfolk Police said they had no comment on the case.

Following the inquest a police spokesman said the investigation highlighted issues surrounding information sharing practices within the control room which were “acted on immediately”, with additional training put in place to ensure calls are recorded appropriately.”

Son of woman killed in crash speaks out about her death

The son of a woman who was killed after being struck by a police van that had been looking for her has spoken out about her death.

Helen Loveday’s son Elliott Morris said it had been very difficult for the family to sit through the inquest and insisted that despite suffering from depression and being on medication, she was ‘in control of her life’ and had not intended to kill herself.

In a statement, which has been released by Hudgell Solicitors, he said: “We appreciate officers involved that night were trying to get to our mum and make her safe, but the poor communication and lack of protocols to safeguard those with mental health issues in emergency circumstances cost our mother her life.

“We find it hard to believe that there was no set protocol to approach an emergency situation involving an individual with mental health issues. As a family we feel my mother’s death would have been prevented had a protocol been in place and followed.”

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