Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Portsmouth police officer cleared of 'dangerous' pursuit

A police patrol officer accused of putting innocent people at risk during a pursuit through Portsmouth has been cleared of dangerous driving.

PC James Holden was following a stolen van which crashed through a railway barrier in Cosham before being stopped.

The van was stopped by another police patrol on the other side of the railway, Guildford Crown Court heard.

PC Holden, 35, denied a dangerous driving charge after a review by senior colleagues at the Hampshire force.

Image caption PC Holden was cleared of dangerous driving at Guildford Crown Court

The officer, from Fratton, did not cross the railway line after the incident in February last year, the court heard.

'Driven at speed'

Earlier in the trial the court heard that all police car pursuits were reviewed by senior officers, and in PC Holden's case they judged he made a number of very serious errors, and that those errors put lives and properties at risk.

The jury was shown footage of the chase taken with a camera fitted inside PC Holden's vehicle.

It showed the stolen van being driven at speed, through several red lights and the wrong way along a section of dual carriageway.

But the jury cleared PC Holden of any wrongdoing after two hours of deliberations.

After the verdict, Hampshire Constabulary said: "Police officers do a difficult job often in very difficult circumstances and the people being pursued were caught as a result of this pursuit and convicted of burglary, vehicle theft and a number of other offences.

"Police officers involved in pursuits are subject to a high level of specialist training, adhering to national policy and codes of practice. Following the outcome of this case we will identify any organisational learning that comes out of it."

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