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Officer who killed man in crash told his job will be waiting for him

?Exemplary? record weighs heavily in chief?s decision to allow death driver to return to police ranks
Published - 03/01/2019 By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle

A chief has given an officer who admitted killing a popular shopkeeper the chance to “rebuild his life” by keeping his job open when he has served his prison term.

The “unprecedented circumstances” and “exemplary” record of Sergeant Jason Bannister means he will be able to return to work after finishing his 18-month jail sentence for causing death by dangerous driving.

Staffordshire Chief Constable Gareth Morgan believes there are “exceptional circumstances” as to why he should ignore College of Policing guidelines and retain the services of the 45-year-old officer.

Following the outcome of a special case hearing, CC Morgan released a lengthy 1,180-word statement in support of his reasoning behind the decision not to impose a “deterrent value” in his determination of police regulations.

He laid particular emphasis on the fact that the public did not need “protecting” from the officer with regard to his past, present or future behaviour.

Temporary Sgt Bannister was the subject of misconduct proceedings after being handed a 18-month prison term at Birmingham crown court in November.

The off-duty Staffordshire officer’s Hyundai was in a head-on collision with a Mercedes Sprinter van driven by Balvinder Singh in December 2016.

Shopkeeper Mr Singh, 59, from Wednesfield, was taken to hospital following the two-vehicle crash on Cannock Road, Wolverhampton, but died later the same day from his injuries.

The officer was treated for minor injuries and, following a probe by West Midlands Police’s serious collision investigation team, was charged with causing death by dangerous driving earlier this year.

In addition to the prison sentence, the officer – who pleaded guilty at a hearing in September – was banned from driving for three years and nine months.

At a special case hearing on Friday, CC Morgan found that Sgt Bannister's conduct amounted to gross misconduct and he was issued with a final written warning and “retained in service”.

The chief constable said the events of the case were “profoundly tragic for all involved but none so much as the family of Balvinder Singh”.

He added: “The pain and loss felt by his family is evident in the statements submitted to the court and supplied additionally to this hearing.

“But it is also a tragedy for Jason Bannister. His remorse and acknowledgement of his guilt at court and at the hearing are testament to his own insight into these tragic circumstances that brought him to this point.”

CC Morgan went on to explain that his role in the case was to provide a “dispassionate application of the regulations, accepting the breadth of discretion the process affords”.

He said: “I am satisfied that these exceptional circumstances warrant the application of my discretion provided for in the regulations.

“The purpose of the misconduct proceedings is not to punish. It is about setting standards and reassuring the public that they can be maintained.

“Jason Bannister has admitted causing death by his dangerous driving and accepted that his conduct has been discreditable and amounts to gross misconduct. 

“Is this sufficient to underline the standards expected? Or do the particular circumstances of this case – which are not in dispute and the off duty nature of the incident– balance the gravity of the criminal conviction and penal sentence of the court?

“Nothing that has been argued or presented in any written submission persuades me that the public need protecting from Jason Bannister.

“Nor do I consider that this behaviour and conduct finding need to be amplified as a preventative measure to ensure that others are persuaded to change their behaviou

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