Issue 39 October 2021 - Journal - Page 85
process is compliant with best practice guidance so
that not only does the person not die during the
process but the process does not then lead to the exclusion of evidence against a person, or the case to
collapse. A phrase I often use if that procedures are
there for a reason.
get home to safety. They exit the vehicle and set off attempting to run home but due to the injuries and loss
of balance they look to on-lookers like they are drunk.
They also vomit with stress response as they try to
run. As they arrive home their partner calls an ambulance, unable to get any reasoning from them as to
what has occurred.
‘Fitness’ to proceed with a person is a key aspect to
consider. Are they fit to proceed or should the officers revert to unfit/lacking capacity?
In the meantime, police attend the road traffic
collision and through witness accounts have reasonable grounds to believe the driver who has made off,
was drunk. They were staggering away and vomited.
The number plate produces the address.
Is this period of being unfit short term or long term?
For every ‘offence’ there are points to prove for the
prosecution team. And for each point to prove the
‘defence’ can look for a statutory defence for their
client to use.
As police arrive at the house they see the ambulance
leaving with the driver within. Ambulance crew believe the head wound is too deep and there are clear
signs of concussion and/or other head injury. Ambulance staff can smell no alcohol but note the driver to
be uncooperative and unsteady on their feet.
For example, with the above scenario we might need
to consider issues connected to:
• hospital patients,
• medical reasons for failure to provide;
• doctor consent
in addition to others.
The police officers waiting at A&E are keen to obtain
a breath sample to establish if they have a drink/drug
driver, and are persisting with A&E staff to let them
speak to the driver.
It is possible for a head injury to appear as intoxication. Traumatic brain injury may be defined as a traumatically induced structural injury and/or
physiological disruption of brain function as a result
of an external force. It may be indicated by new onset
or worsening of at least one of the following clinical
signs, immediately following the event:
• any period of loss of or a decreased level of
The driver is now in a cubicle being attended to by
staff. They are in the process of receiving stitches to the
head and are awaiting being sent for a CT scan. The
police officer has been given permission by the on-duty
doctor to ask the driver about the collision.
The officer produces their official paperwork and begins to ask for samples for analysis. The driver is still receiving treatment and is still dealing with some loss of
hearing and severe head pain. Having never been involved with police officers before they say “I’ll come to
the station when I’m finished here and sort it all out”.
The officer repeats their requests and follows through
with some official wording which the driver does not
properly understand. This was the formal warning
concerning fail to provide and prosecution. The
driver is irritated by the officer and sharply repeats
their earlier response that they will attend the station
• any loss of memory for events immediately before
or after the injury
• any alteration in mental state at the time of the
injury (confusion, disorientation, slowed thinking,
• neurological deficits (weakness, loss of balance,
change in vision, praxis, paresis/plegia, sensory loss,
aphasia, etc.) that may or may not be a transient intracranial lesion.
Several hours later they are released from hospital
and attend the police station to be informed the procedure is completed and they were reported for the
offence of failure to provide.
A blow to the head can result in bruising or bleeding
inside the skull or inside the brain. Not all head injuries are visible and complications may occur at any
time after the event. Staff must be aware of the risks
associated with head injuries, particularly when dealing with persons who may have been involved in a
fight or a road traffic collision. Staff should also be
aware that symptoms of a serious injury to the head
can display as the common signs of drunkenness (eg,
slurred speech, drowsiness and vomiting). A head injury may result in a rapid deterioration in the health
of the person.
The driver now looks to receive a conviction
for which many may assume means they were
drink/drug driving. This could have serious
ramifications for their employment.
What if they were over the limit?
Looking at can the guilty avoid conviction. What if
the driver had been drinking before leaving work?
What if they were over the prescribed limit? Instead
of receiving a conviction for driving whilst over the
prescribed limit they are receiving a lesser offence for
failure to provide.
The National Institute for Health and Care
Excellence (NICE) guidance explains: “High-energy
head injury. For example, pedestrian struck by motor
vehicle, occupant ejected from motor vehicle, fall
from a height of greater than 1 metre or more than
5 stairs, diving accident, high-speed motor vehicle
Overlapping Safer Custody
A significant aspect for ‘safer custody’ is that the
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