Police step in to drink drive row after complaint

The drunken man after his car crashed into Alan Hamer's
The drunken man after his car crashed into Alan Hamer's

Wigan police have launched an investigation after officers failed to respond to a call that a dangerously drunk man was at the wheel of a car.

Alan Hamer at first felt sorry for the stranger who he saw in the morning so inebriated that he kept falling over as he tried to put bottles in a bin.

But moments later he was told by a witness that a vehicle had crashed into his car - and the culprit was the drunken man he had just seen. The out-of-control Citroen Xara then collided with two bins.

Mr Hamer, who was on a business trip to Wigan from his works in Bolton, challenged the motorist but says he was “barely coherent” so he rang the police on the non-emergency number 101.

He rang again an hour later but no-one came, and then again an hour after that because the man - who appeared to be living nearby - had got back in his car and was driving off - this only two hours before children would be coming out of school.

The crash had happened at 10.50am on a car park in Kent Street, Wigan. At 3.15pm police rang Mr Hamer back to say they didn’t have time to come out and would he like to go to a local police station to provide the story.

The Skelmersdale 52-year-old said: “I commented that there would be no value as it was clear that they had no intention of addressing this issue. I then wrote a letter of complaint to the Chief Superintendent of Wigan Police and the IOPC.

“I was shocked that the police simply do not care enough to take a drunk-driver off the road that has been involved in a road collision and also has no care for any other road user.

“He clearly drives his car under the influence regularly and has no morals or scruples.

“I am certain this man will injure or kill someone. Wigan Police should, if this occurs, be held fully responsible.

“They had an opportunity to remove a drunk driver from the road and were, allegedly, too busy.”

After the Wigan Observer intervened, Supt Gareth Parkin of GMP’s Wigan borough, issued a statement saying: “Even the smallest amount of alcohol can impair your ability to drive, which is why we take reports of drink driving seriously. “When we received a report from a member of the public about a person they thought was driving under the influence, this was subject to a continuous assessment process, ensuring officers could provide the appropriate response.

“At that time however, there was a number of higher grade incidents that needed a more urgent response, meaning our officers were unable to attend and speak with the driver or the man who made the report.

“Unfortunately, fewer resources and an increase in demand mean that we sometimes have to make decisions like this, but when we do, we ensure that the victim, or the person making the report, is given an alternative means to process the incident.

“However, I have made contact with the complainant directly and assured him that we will be conducting a review into this incident.”

Mr Hamer said: “I do understand the resource issues, but errors were made during the prioritisation process that meant a man, who was so drunk he couldn’t walk properly, was able to drive his car on two occasions on Friday, June 22 and cause damage to my car.

“I am satisfied now that my complaint is being taken seriously and I have the utmost respect for the Police who do a very challenging job with inadequate resource.

“However, to be fully satisfied, I need to see that the person in question is taken off the roads by some means to prevent a potentially more serious situation.

“Colliding with a car when driving under the influence of alcohol is unsatisfactory; colliding with a human being is absolutely unacceptable, particularly when the police where given a golden opportunity to take him off the roads.”

Mr Hamer said the collision had damaged his car’s front bumper and might cost between £600 and £1,000 to repair. He said he was preparing an insurance claim and was sure that a successful police prosecution would help his case.

Supt Parkin said: “If you know someone is driving under the influence of drink or drugs, please report this to police on 101, or make an anonymous report through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”