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Call for more police funding as report highlights flaws in investigation of Kent cyclist's death

Report into Marc Dunk's death highlights lack of guidance from senior officers and witnesses not being interviewed ...

National cyclists’ charity CTC has called for more funding for roads policing after a report into Kent Police’s investigation of the death of a cyclist killed in a collision with a lorry highlighted a series of flaws in its handling of the case. It warns that unless more money is made available, the standard of investigations could worsen.

Marc Dunk, aged 28, was fatally injured when he was struck by the lorry as he cycled to work from his home in Margate in February 2010, with a coroner’s inquiry concluding that his death was accidental.

An initial review of the case by Kent Police said that the investigation had been carried out properly, but a campaign led by the victim’s family led to a second review, which also involved officers from Essex Police.

That review, published last month, found there were a number of issues in the way Mr Dunk’s death had been investigated, including two of four witnesses to the fatal crash not being interviewed, reports the Thanet Gazette.

The report also found that the inexperienced officer to whom the case was assigned did not receive adequate guidance from more senior officers, and that while a number of mobile phones were discovered in the lorry’s cab, only one was examined to see if it had been used at the time of the incident.

It added that no assessment had been made of the lorry driver’s consumption of the pain-killing drug codeine or if that may have impaired his ability to drive.

A spokesman for Kent Police said: "Lessons have been learned from the original investigation and working practices have been adapted to ensure, as far as is possible, that any shortcomings are not repeated.

"Kent Police's sympathies remain with Mr Dunk's family and we have met with them and talked at length about the investigation, the review and our findings.

"The review concluded that, although there were issues with the investigation, these would have been unlikely to have altered the outcome of the case."

However, Mr Dunk’s mother and stepfather, Christine and Tony Elson, insist the report does not answer the questions they still have about his death more than five years on.

Mrs Elson said: “What this has put us through is a hundred times worse than just losing our son.

"I know that sounds stupid, but it's so distressing. You have lost your child and all you want is answers to how the accident happened and they still cannot do that."

She added: "I have always trusted the police, they take an oath to Queen and country, but they have let us down and they have let our son down.

"He deserved the right for a full investigation into his death."

Through its Road Justice campaign, CTC has been calling for more thorough investigation and prosecution of cases following a road traffic incident in which the victim is a cyclist, as well as tougher sentencing for motorists who are found guilty.

Rhia Favero, road safety campaigner at the national cyclists’ charity, said Mr Dunk’s case highlighted the difficulties police face in carrying out thorough investigations after a succession of funding cuts, and called for more money to be devoted to roads policing.

She told “This is the second case I'm aware of where Kent Police have failed to properly investigate an incident where a cyclist died and have jumped to conclusions, leaving a family fighting years for the truth.

“With the deep cuts to roads policing that have happened over the last decade or so, it's no surprise that police forces are cutting corners by sending junior officers to investigate serious cases.

"These sorts of slack investigations will get more common if traffic police units don't receive a larger portion of police funds.

“CTC's Road Justice Campaign has long campaigned for greater investment in roads policing and better training of officers so they can do their jobs properly.”

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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Airzound | 9 years ago

Is it any surprise? Most cops are pretty thick. The thickos at school signed up for the police as they couldn't get a job elsewhere.

Manchestercyclist | 9 years ago

No one would accept poorer teaching because of junior staff. Why are the polices actions always related to their pay?

Further to that, how many experienced officers can you have when they all depart for the coast del sol after a thirty year stint?

OhYesWell | 9 years ago

Police investigate Police, CLASSIC. Not just incompetence let's include vested interests. Why is it that trotting out the phrase 'Lessons have been learned' lets bungling senior officers off the hook? So long as their pensions aren't jeopardised eh? Try the IPCC and more media coverage...

severs1966 replied to OhYesWell | 9 years ago
OhYesWell wrote:

...Try the IPCC...

The IPCC don't care about bike riders being killed. I tried this already. My local (elected!) head of IPCC won't even answer my emails honestly.

danthomascyclist | 9 years ago

Why blame lack of funding? It's clearly lack of competence.

-2 witnesses ignored
-Mobile phones ignored
-Ignored potential effects of medication

Is this going to be the default answer to all poorly-investigated cycling accidents? "We don't have enough money to do our jobs properly".

Now that the family has been forced to push for a review, I would assume that this case has now cost them far more than a precise investigation would have cost first time round.

horizontal dropout replied to danthomascyclist | 9 years ago
danthomascyclist wrote:

Why blame lack of funding? It's clearly lack of competence.

I think the article covers this point:


With the deep cuts to roads policing that have happened over the last decade or so, it's no surprise that police forces are cutting corners by sending junior officers to investigate serious cases.

Ie it is lack of funding which leads to the possible incompetence or at least inexperience.

Bez | 9 years ago

Let's not forget the other notable dropped bollock in Kent's prosecutions:

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