Lack of officers delays fatal school crash case

The parents of a girl killed when a Land Rover crashed through a fence at her school say the Met Commissioner has told them their case is taking so long due to a lack of forensic officers.

Nuria Sajjad and Selena Lau, who were both eight, died when the vehicle crashed into an end-of-term tea party at The Study Preparatory School in Wimbledon, south-west London, on 6 July.

A woman arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving was released under investigation. The Met confirmed the delay was due to a lack of specialist investigators and said it was trying to address the problem.

Nuria was taking a photo with her mum Smera Chohan when she was killed. Several people, including Ms Chohan, were injured in the crash that happened at about 10:00 BST.

Ms Chohan told the BBC that the last year had been made worse by the lack of progress in the police investigation.

“Occasions have come and gone in the last 10 months from Christmas to new year to Ramadan to Eid to Mother’s Day to her ninth birthday,” she said.

“And we have lived through all of those without knowing how or why our daughter was killed. This is how much time has passed. This is unacceptable and it’s a horror that we live in.”

Nuria’s father Sajjad Butt said: “The only reason for this delay in this coming to the next stage is a lack of specialised resources to deliver a particular part of the investigation. ”

In a letter to the families’ solicitor, the Metropolitan Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said investigators had interviewed more than 150 witnesses, analysed CCTV as well as conducted a forensic analysis of the vehicles concerned and interviewed the driver.

“I recognise that the investigation is not happening as quickly as the families would hope, and I apologise for the impact that this has had but I hope you recognise why it is important that the investigation is comprehensive,” he wrote.

The letter said work was under way to “improve timeliness”. There is currently only one path to qualify as a Forensic Collision Investigator (FCI) available in the UK, which is a six-year, part time course from De Montfort University,” wrote Sir Mark.

“This means there are very few individuals who have the specialist skills needed to progress these investigations and the MPS currently takes up approximately 20% of course places as we are seeking to increase the number of investigatorsThe Met has confirmed there are 11 forensics collision investigators who are required to carry out investigations on all fatal and some non-fatal crashes. 17 more investigators are in training, with the Met also looking to increase the number of trained officers.

Ms Chohan said the lack of resources in the case was not acceptable.

“With the nature of this accident and the way we have been left, I don’t think it can be acceptable for any parent to hear that the reason you haven’t got any answers is there’s a resource issue,” she said.

Nuria’s parents are concerned the delay may affect their fight for answers.

“We feel there might be a challenge that the case might be impacted because so much time has passed, memories fade,” said Mr Butt.

“I was present on the day but every day I find myself struggling to remember what might have happened.

“Others will want to put this behind them, others will want to move on. Asking critical people to wait nine months for things to move, could this impact us getting justice for our girl? It might.

Source: BBC

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