Police officers found not guilty in Henry Hicks case
The four officers charged with gross misconduct following the death of London teenager Henry Hicks have been cleared in a police disciplinary hearing.
The case was brought against them because they allegedly failed to seek appropriate permission to pursue Hicks, who at the time was riding above the legal speed limit.
Central to the officers’ defence that they were not in actual pursuit was the claim that Hicks did not act like someone being pursued and CCTV footage showed their vehicles were some way back from Hick’s during the event.
Neil Saunders, representing the two officers in the unmarked police car closest to Hicks said: “The case revolves around whether this was a pursuit. I don’t agree.
“There are none of the classic signs: he doesn’t hunch to look in his mirrors. He doesn’t discard the helmet. He doesn’t discard the drugs. He doesn’t discard the phones. Officers with experience of pursuits know the driver would have headed into the estate.
“Finally, what does Henry do? He indicates to turn right into Wheelwright Street, just in case the officers didn’t see where he was going.”
Referring to the fact that, during the inquest into his death, Hicks was known to the police as a drug dealer, Mr Saunders added: “What reason, then, for Henry to drive quickly? Maybe he doesn’t want to linger. He has seven bags of skunk. He’s possibly been dealing drugs. We don’t know where he was going.
“From the CCTV on Pentonville Prison, the closest the car gets to the bike is four seconds. The bike was getting further away from the first car.”
During the inquest, the jury had heard that Henry Hicks had been stopped by police 89 times in a three year period. Following the accident, three mobile phones were found on Hicks, containing nearly 100 messages related to drugs as well as bags of skunk with a street value of up to £140.
Case led to an explosion in moped-related crime
As reported by Biker & Bike in our series on the motorbike crime epidemic, the high profile investigation and prosecutions of the officers has directly led to an increase in moped-related crime as offenders became aware of the rules around pursuits and police officers became warier of taking pursuit action that could lead to their own prosecution.
Although more restrictive policies on police pursuits had been introduced five years earlier, in 2009, since Hicks’ death in 2014 there has been an explosion in crimes committed using mopeds, including the theft of larger motorcycles.
The verdict will not change the current legislation on police pursuits of powered two-wheelers, but authorities and police bodies are working on revising policies in light of the explosion in motorcycle crime and attacks on the public by moped riding criminals.