Probe into how police handled driving concerns before triple fatal M40 wrong-way crash

Police. Pic Steve Robards SR1817973 SUS-180108-084545001
Police. Pic Steve Robards SR1817973 SUS-180108-084545001

The police watchdog is carrying out an investigation into how a report of concerns regarding a driver’s ability was handled by police five days before a triple fatal collision on the M40 in Oxfordshire.

Thames Valley Police (TVP) referred itself to The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) as John Norton was involved in an accident five days before the wrong-way crash on the motorway which killed him and two others.

IOPC regional director Sarah Green said: “Clearly the events on the M40 motorway are terribly tragic and the families of those who died and all of those affected have my deepest sympathies.

“We are examining whether the response from Thames Valley Police adhered to relevant guidelines and policies when concerns were raised over the driver’s abilities five days ahead of the fatal collision.

“We are also looking to see whether there are any areas for potential amendments to policies and practices which may assist in reducing the likelihood of something this devastating occurring again.”

Mr Norton, 80, and Olive Howard, 87, both from High Wycombe, were killed when their Subaru Forester towing a caravan was involved in a crash while driving on the wrong side of the motorway near junction six for Lewknor on October 15.

Stuart Richards, 32, from Stockport, Cheshire, who was driving a Ford Mondeo also involved in the crash, also died.

TVP referred the matter to the IOPC as five days earlier police received a report of a damage only collision in High Wycombe in which a Subaru struck a parked car.

The owner of the parked car was sitting in his vehicle at the time and alerted the Subaru driver to the incident.

The drivers exchanged details and the owner of the parked car reported the incident to the police via 999 during which he was advised to submit a report online, which he did the same day.

In the report he raised concerns over the Subaru driver’s fitness to drive and the safety of other road users as a result.

It is believed that the driver of the Subaru on October 10, was Mr Norton.

The IOPC’s investigation is examining the actions taken by TVP following the concerns raised and whether these actions were in accordance with local and national policies and procedures.