In yesterdays example of an incident that could attract the attention of the authorities in connection with Corporate Manslaughter Legislation I laid out a typical crash scenario. Today I shall lay before you the next stage of the process, the investigation.
You will remember that the incident occurred at 08:40 hours.
By Midday the Police have arrived at the Head Office of the company owning Vehicle One.
The receptionist, unable to tell the Police who could speak for the company, calls the Managing Director who is in a client meeting. The Managing Director has to make his excuses to that very important client and drive back to the Head Office.
In the meantime the Police have sealed the building and have prevented persons entering or leaving the premises. This is to prevent you, as suspected murderers, removing any vital evidence. You should be under no illusions, the Police are treating the death of this young woman as an unlawful killing and the officers who come to your office are not those nice Traffic Officers you see on telly, these are serious crime detectives more used to dealing with drug dealers and other similar ne’er do wells.
Whilst waiting for the Managing Director, the Police have identified the person who is loosely in charge of the vehicles. I would describe this person as a Fleet Manager, but they are more likely to be in a Human Resources or a Finance Function. This Fleet Manager has been required to produce the service history for the vehicle involved in the collision, the mileage reports for the driver concerned and the company’s mobile phone policy. These documents are seized along with the vehicle, which is still at the scene of the collision.
In view of the information they now have in their possession, the Police have also seized the service history for every other vehicle in the fleet, along with names and addresses of all employees so the driving licences can be checked with DVLA. VOSA were requested to attend the Head Office and examine every vehicle in the car park for defects. All of this will take time and rest assured the Police will take all the time they need.
The Fleet Manager has let it slip that mileage reports were submitted by the drivers using the company’s email system, so as the company’s server has all this valuable evidence on it, the Police have seized that too. Your business has now effectively ceased to operate. Your staff are all confined to base and your computer system is now unplugged from the server.
Once the Managing Director has returned to his Head Office he will be admitted to the premises and cautioned along with the Finance Director and the Fleet Manager. Once you have been given your right to silence and the right to legal advice you will be questioned about the way you operate your vehicles. They will also want to know the steps you take to prevent your drivers killing themselves or other road users. At this point you had better have some very good answers in place.
During his interview the Finance Director was also forced to produce accounts and bank statements for the business.
Once the Police are satisfied they have all the information they require to proceed with a prosecution against you, or not as the case may be. They will then allow your staff to leave the premises and go home. Don’t expect to get the evidence they seized back in a hurry though. All evidence will be kept until the end of any trials and appeals. We shall discuss the evidence chain in tomorrows installment.