Compensation Claim After Gun Safety Lecture Backfires

A police force and one of its armed officers are being sued and prosecuted after a civilian employee was shot during a firearms training session.

The Chief Constable of Thames Valley Police and the officer responsible are accused of breaching health and safety laws after Keith Tilbury was shot in the stomach at the police headquarters in Kidlington, Oxfordshire on 30 May 2007. The officer who shot Mr Tilbury is Pc David Micklethwaite who was suspended from duty, during an investigation following the accident

Mr Tilbury was shot while he sat in his chair along with 10 colleagues in a classroom. The class was a lecture on gun safety. The training session is part of an induction for police support staff to provide them with basic firearms awareness. Mr Tilbury was treated at the John Radcliffe Hospital and underwent surgery on the bullet wound.

After the accident Thames Valley Police called in the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate the incident. At the time IPCC commissioner Deborah Glass said: “I have decided that we should conduct an independent investigation, to establish the circumstances of this incident. The investigation will determine how live ammunition came to be present in a firearm during an awareness session, and consider whether any criminal or disciplinary offences have been committed.” The IPCC investigation concluded that Pc Micklethwaite should not face criminal charges.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which investigates all work related injuries, also launched an investigation. A spokesman said: “The HSE is prosecuting Thames Valley Police and Pc David Micklethwaite over alleged breaches of health and safety law. This follows its investigation into the non-fatal shooting of a civilian employee of Thames Valley Police Authority during a firearms training session.”

Mr Tilbury, who recovered well from his injury, has now also filed a compensation claim for his accident at work .

The case will come before the magistrates in Banbury on 15 May 2009.

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