National cyclists’ charity CTC has called for more funding for roads policing after a report into Kent Police’s investigation of the death of a cyclist killed in a collision with a lorry highlighted a series of flaws in its handling of the case. It warns that unless more money is made available, the standard of investigations could worsen.
Marc Dunk, aged 28, was fatally injured when he was struck by the lorry as he cycled to work from his home in Margate in February 2010, with a coroner’s inquiry concluding that his death was accidental.
An initial review of the case by Kent Police said that the investigation had been carried out properly, but a campaign led by the victim’s family led to a second review, which also involved officers from Essex Police.
That review, published last month, found there were a number of issues in the way Mr Dunk’s death had been investigated, including two of four witnesses to the fatal crash not being interviewed, reports the Thanet Gazette.
The report also found that the inexperienced officer to whom the case was assigned did not receive adequate guidance from more senior officers, and that while a number of mobile phones were discovered in the lorry’s cab, only one was examined to see if it had been used at the time of the incident.
It added that no assessment had been made of the lorry driver’s consumption of the pain-killing drug codeine or if that may have impaired his ability to drive.
A spokesman for Kent Police said: "Lessons have been learned from the original investigation and working practices have been adapted to ensure, as far as is possible, that any shortcomings are not repeated.
"Kent Police's sympathies remain with Mr Dunk's family and we have met with them and talked at length about the investigation, the review and our findings.
"The review concluded that, although there were issues with the investigation, these would have been unlikely to have altered the outcome of the case."
However, Mr Dunk’s mother and stepfather, Christine and Tony Elson, insist the report does not answer the questions they still have about his death more than five years on.
Mrs Elson said: “What this has put us through is a hundred times worse than just losing our son.
"I know that sounds stupid, but it's so distressing. You have lost your child and all you want is answers to how the accident happened and they still cannot do that."
She added: "I have always trusted the police, they take an oath to Queen and country, but they have let us down and they have let our son down.
"He deserved the right for a full investigation into his death."
Through its Road Justice campaign, CTC has been calling for more thorough investigation and prosecution of cases following a road traffic incident in which the victim is a cyclist, as well as tougher sentencing for motorists who are found guilty.
Rhia Favero, road safety campaigner at the national cyclists’ charity, said Mr Dunk’s case highlighted the difficulties police face in carrying out thorough investigations after a succession of funding cuts, and called for more money to be devoted to roads policing.
She told road.cc: “This is the second case I'm aware of where Kent Police have failed to properly investigate an incident where a cyclist died and have jumped to conclusions, leaving a family fighting years for the truth.
“With the deep cuts to roads policing that have happened over the last decade or so, it's no surprise that police forces are cutting corners by sending junior officers to investigate serious cases.
"These sorts of slack investigations will get more common if traffic police units don't receive a larger portion of police funds.
“CTC's Road Justice Campaign has long campaigned for greater investment in roads policing and better training of officers so they can do their jobs properly.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.