We have previously reported on the prosecution of Greater Manchester Police following the incident on 9 June 2008 when PC Ian Terry was inadvertently shot and killed during a firearms training exercise. PC Terry was acting as an armed criminal who was attempting to escape, when another officer acted instinctively in firing his weapon causing PC Terry to sustain fatal chest injuries.

Greater Manchester Police had previously pleaded guilty to breach of section 2(1) HSWA for failing to properly monitor the firearms exercise which was found to have been poorly managed and inadequately implemented. Two officers (who were granted anonymity and named ‘PC Francis’ and ‘PC Eric’ for the purposes of the Trial) involved in the planning and organisation of the exercise were individually prosecuted for breaches of s7 HSWA (duty of every employee to take reasonable care for their own and health and safety and that of others affected by their acts and omissions). Both officers pleaded not guilty.

The court heard that there was a lethal combination of factors, including the use of live rounds and the use of an aggressive scenario, which had caused the officer who shot PC Terry (who was not himself prosecuted) to shoot instinctively. PC Francis was found guilty of the charge and fined £2k with £500 in costs whilst PC Eric was found not guilty. The case highlights the HSE’s approach to pursuing individual prosecutions where they consider the circumstances justify such a step, notwithstanding a guilty plea from an employer.

The Greater Manchester Police Force was fined £166k and costs of £90k in relation to their breach and confirmed that they had accepted that PC Terry’s death was an “avoidable tragedy” and that they had since “radically changed” their procedures for firearms training.