Police handed £256,000 penalty for ‘cops and robbers’ training fatality

A police force and one of its officers have been fined for safety failings following an incident in which a constable was shot dead during a training exercise.

Manchester Crown Court heard that PC Ian Terry, 32, was attending a firearms training exercise at a disused warehouse in Newton Heath, Manchester, on 9 June 2008. The exercise consisted of a scenario to practise the apprehension of armed criminals from a car.

PC Terry was shot by a colleague while playing the role of an armed criminal. The gun the colleague was using contained a specialist ammunition called and RIP (Round Irritant Personnel) cartridge, which disperses CS gas crystals and is designed not to kill. However, PC Terry, who was not wearing any body armour, received severe injuries to his chest and was pronounced dead at hospital.

A training officer responsible for the course, who was referred to as Constable Francis during the trial to protect his identity, ran the course but failed to properly consider the risks. He allowed participants to use live ammunition while encouraging them to act in an aggressive manner during the exercise.

PC Francis was found guilty of breaching s7 of the HSWA 1974, for failing to protect his colleague, following a four-week trial. He was sentenced on 12 July and was fined £2000 and ordered to pay costs of £500. Another firearms trainer, known as Sergeant Eric, was found not guilty of the same offence.

Also sentenced at the same hearing was Greater Manchester Police, which pleaded guilty in March to breaching s2(1) of the 1974 Act. It was fined £166,666 and ordered to pay costs of £90,000.