A judge has called for the Metropolitan Police to review acceptable speeds for responses to 999 calls after an officer was jailed over the death of a young woman.
PC Nadeem Patel, 28, was driving at more than 80mph before his patrol car struck 25-year-old Shante Daniel-Folkes on Stockwell Road in Brixton, south London, on 9 June 2021.
Ms Daniel-Folkes was thrown into the air, fell unconscious and died at the scene.
PC Patel pleaded guilty in February to causing her death by dangerous driving and was sentenced to three years in prison and disqualified from driving for 54 months.
Judge Mark Lucraft KC told PC Patel: “It is clear from the investigation that has been conducted that you drove at grossly excessive speed, over a not insignificant distance, far in excess of that which was safe given the prevailing road conditions, even making allowance for the fact of responding to an emergency call and not being bound by the speed limit.”
The case can only now be reported after the conclusion of the Old Bailey trial of PC Gary Thomson who was driving just ahead of PC Patel and was not involved in the collision.
PC Thomson was cleared of dangerous driving but convicted of the lesser offence of careless driving on Monday.
He was fined £500 and given five penalty points, as well as being ordered to pay costs of £500.
Sentencing PC Thomson, Judge Lucraft said: “I note there is no clear guidance provided by the Metropolitan Police on speeds police cars should not exceed in responding to emergency calls when driving in residential areas or roads subject to a speed limit of 30mph.
“In my judgment, further thought should be given to this issue particularly as the speed limits in many residential areas are being further reduced to 20mph.”
Ms Daniel-Folkes had been walking across the road at around 11.20pm close to a pedestrian crossing when PC Thomson’s car passed her with its emergency lights and siren activated.
She continued to cross and was struck by PC Patel’s vehicle around three to four seconds later.
He had earlier switched off his front emergency lights so as to not affect PC Thomson’s vision in the lead vehicle but did have his siren activated.
Although exempt from the 30mph limit, PC Patel reached a peak speed of 83.9mph on Stockwell Road just 115 metres before the point the car stopped.
The vehicle was travelling at around 55mph at the time of the crash after PC Patel braked for two seconds from a speed of more than 81mph.
The vehicle being driven by PC Thomson also passed Ms Daniel-Folkes at speeds of between 70-79mph.
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During PC Patel’s sentencing in February, Ms Daniel-Folkes’s family described her as “kind, funny, loving, and very creative”.
Judge Lucraft said: “She is described as bubbly and carefree – a lover of life and someone who was ambitious.
“She loved fashion and design. She was a mentor, an artist, a certified nail technician looking forward to opening her own salon and to a bright future for herself and her young son who she adored. She was much loved by all who knew her.
“The family are devastated by the loss of Shante.
“They express a numb and empty feeling at Shante’s loss and speak about the long-lasting impact on the family and that on Shante’s young son in particular – a son she will not see grow up and make his own way in life.”
Rosemary Ainslie, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Shante Daniel-Folkes following this avoidable tragedy.
“Both officers, although not bound by the 30mph speed limit while responding to a 999 call, were driving at motorway speeds in a built-up urban area, with a number of potential hazards in the vicinity.
“These included pedestrians, cyclists, and cars travelling in the other direction, as well as an open convenience store directly at the scene and a nearby pub in which 30 to 40 customers were present for a quiz night.
“There was an obvious risk of injury to a person from vehicles travelling at that speed in the dark, and both officers fell below the expected standard of a competent and careful driver that evening.
“PC Patel admitted causing the death of Ms Daniel-Foulkes by driving dangerously and I hope his sentence, along with today’s verdict for PC Thomson, offers some comfort to her family at this extremely difficult time.”