Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Parents of dead teenager charged £500 for copy of police accident report

Car accidentPlease see the ‘Update’ below, which confirms this charge was refunded together with a “sincere and unreserved apology”.

I wrote on the subject of family’s access to accident reports a while ago (September 2012):

It seems that such information releases are already considered the norm in Europe, so there should not really be any problem in having the same service provided here:

Vikki Long, a researcher in the School of Law at Dundee who compiled the report, said: “It is very encouraging to learn that legal procedures and practices exist in several European countries that could have a positive influence on the development of Scots law in relation to access to information following a fatal road collision.

“If these were adopted in Scotland it would reduce some of the anguish experienced by those bereaved by road death.”

The first copy of these findings have been presented to Jenny Marra, MSP for North East Scotland.

From Crash reports publication call

No progress?

It would seem that there has been no significant progress, or even recognition of the report.

While I do not have access to the full details of the following story, and cannot comment fairly either way, it would seem on face value that Northern Constabulary has no knowledge of the potential damage its attempt to weasel its way out of simply providing the information requested under Freedom of Information (Scotland) could do, for the nominal charge that allows, if it really needs money that badly:

The grieving parents of a teenager killed in a crash in Caithness say they are disgusted they have had to pay for a copy of a police report into the death of their son.

Christopher Durrand’s family have now made an official complaint after they were charged more than £500 for the document.

Northern Constabulary, the force responsible, said it was following national guidelines.

In February 2012 the 17-year-old was killed when his car hit a tree on the B876 at Seater Bridge near Wick.

Mr Durrand’s parents initially assumed they would be able to use special legislation relating to Freedom of Information to access the report for free.

Northern Constabulary said however that that ACPOS — the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland charges for this information — and the cost would be substantial.

The family are now fighting for a refund as politicians call for the rules to be reviewed.

Via Parents of Christopher Durrand charged £500 for copy of crash report | Highlands & Islands | News | STV

Northern Constabulary said it would not be appropriate to comment on the matter.

Update

A family that was forced to pay £500 to view a police report into the death of their son has received a refund.

Northern Constabulary – which originally said it was following national guidelines – told the family of Christopher Durrand the report into their son’s death could not be obtained under Freedom of Information legislation and they would have to fork out hundreds of pounds to view the document.

In February 2012 the 17-year-old was killed when his car hit a tree on the B876 at Seater Bridge near Wick.

The force’s acting chief constable has now accepted the decision to bill the family was “inappropriate and insensitive”.

Acting chief constable Andy Cowie said the force had issued an “a sincere and unreserved apology”.

Caithness Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson contacted the force on behalf of the family.

In a response to the MSP Mr Cowie decided that asking for a fee was “inappropriate and insensitive”.

Via Police issue apology over £500 bill to family of dead teenager | Highlands & Islands | News | STV

The report goes on to state that the matter has been raised with the Justice Secretary, in the hope that such a scenario is not repeated.

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March 22, 2013 - Posted by | Civilian, Transport | , , , , , , , ,

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