I thought I would wait until I saw what was in the public domain before commenting on this story, some friends of mine had attended this call and had told me about it.

A police patrol car which hit and killed a teenager in east London while answering a 999 call had not been sounding its siren, police said.

Khaleel Rehman, 16, from East Ham, was knocked off his bicycle on a pedestrian crossing in Ron Leighton Way, East Ham, in the early hours of Saturday.

|t is a terrible, tragic, incident and my sympathies go out to all those involved. Whatever I write here is not designed to deflect or apportion blame to anyone involved, but just to provide some information that the media might not be aware of.

The main concern is that sirens were not being used by the police car. According to earlier BBC reports the accident occurred around half past midnight. At these times of the night we do not routinely use sirens – in most cases the blue lights of a vehicle are easier to see than trying to place where the sound of a siren comes from. We are also aware that people are trying to sleep – and so running around with sirens blaring at all times of the night would result in a large number of complaints to the emergency services.

Imagine also if you live near an ambulance station, or one of the popular junctions.

The choice is simple – do you run the sirens all the time in the unproved theory that it will stop an accident, or do you let the driver use their judgement as to when they are needed?

When I'm driving around at night I often see bicycle riders, and it seems that for many of them the standard dress, as it were, is that of dark clothes and no lights or reflectors on their bike. On more than one occasion I have had the urge to pull up alongside such a cyclist and remind them that what they are doing is likely to have them end up in the back of my ambulance.

Obviously I don't know if Mr Rahman had a light and reflectors, that will be something for the IPCC to investigate.

I'd would also like to point out how surprised the police are when they hear how little blue-light driving training us ambulance people receive, I believe that the police training is both longer and much stricter than ours.

I suspect that the IPCC investigation will take some time although police cars have comprehensive 'black box' recorders, so the facts should be simple to find out. If the driver was driving dangerously, then I would hope that they suffer the same sanctions as any member the public. If they are found not responsible for the accident then I hope that they can put these terrible events behind them.

I suspect that the media would only report on one of those two outcomes.

20 thoughts on “Sirens”

  1. I have nearly been knocked off my bike by other idiot cyclists coming the other way (ninjas I call them) dressed in black from head to foot at night with no lights or reflectors. They have an insane tendency to ride on the wrong side of bike paths as well.If you know a few over and leave them there, I will not complain.

  2. I'd also like to add another point….What was a 16-year-old doing out (sounds like on their own as well?) at that time of night?! I'd have been made to be home by that time or else there'd be a whole lot of trouble!

    How things change in just 10 years!

  3. My mistake totally missed the bit where the cousin was following him…But my point still stands!

  4. umm 16 year olds are adults. you can be married at 16 rememberin fact you can join the army at 16 i think

  5. A few years ago there was a letter in our local paper from a woman who moved into a house near the fire station and was complaining about the noise from the sirens. More recently another letter writer made the same point saying something along the lines of, “it's obvious that not ALL the calls can be emergencies.”It's a good point. I personally favour the emergency services writing polite letters to motorists asking if they wouldn't mind getting out of the way if it's not too inconveinient. That seems a much better scheme than all this uncouth siren nonsence.



  6. When I had to retake part of my driving test (no infractions, just different norms for towing trailers/caravans in other EU countries) the examiner asked if I always looked in the rear-view mirror obsessively, or was it because it was a test – answer – after working nights and living within 500 yards of police, fire and casualty, I no longer hear any type of siren, not even the new yankee modulating onesj

  7. Just the other night I was driving our ambulance, brand new with bright new LEDs all over, at midnight going through an intersection with my sirens on and a car still decided to go 3/4 of the way through the intersection before stopping. He started stopped at a red light that changed to green, all the while clearly able to see me coming.I also routinely see pedestrians run across the road during the day, trying to get across before I get to them.

    Not that it excuses anything, because as a driver, being aware is the most crucial part, but other people just don't know how to react to emergency vehicles.

  8. I don't know anything about this case, so it may not apply, but I can think of another reason why the police might not be using a siren. They might not want to alert perps how close they are, so that they (the perps) do more harm to the victim(s).

  9. You're only slightly right there.The legal age of majority in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 18. In Scotland it is 16.

    You still can't vote at 16 and you still can't drink. If you do join the services you are non-combatant until you're 18.

    Besides all that, I would have been in for a right talking to if I had been out at that time at night when I was 16, but that was many, many years ago.

  10. I live along the main road to a hospital-there are junctions that mean every few minutes you hear a siren-its bad enough in the day, at night-i dread to think of how little sleep the city centre would get.I think you're right-the media will only print what will sell

  11. LAS do no blue light training atall. I was shocked when I was told that on the driving course and very very nervous on my first placement doing my first blue light run to a real call with no training and just being expected to know what to do.

  12. frankly if you are old enough to give birth to a child you are old enough to be out at 12:30to suggest you somehow deserve to be run over is bonkers, or somehow because they are young they shouldn't be awake at 12:30

    the bellitteling of youths is a really acidic and unproductive nature of our society, dont beleive the media hype, I don;t have kids, dont want any and dont want to spend any time on a bus with them but i don't want to live in a place where people are all so suspicious of kids.

  13. This is a tragic inncident!!!, my heart felt symphathies go out to the family of this young man!!.I am sure the officers in question are also going through alot of what ifs!!!!

    As for the age of the 16 tear old being out at this time, is that times have changed from when we were kids, and parents dont seem to have the discipline now a days, the reason being is that there is so much child abuse and in our days it was not recognised or it was but never talked about which is another tale!!! Kids of this day and age seem to do what they want (UNFORTUNATELY).

    As for the sirens not being used, I thought it was the law that between the hours of 11pm and 7am you can not sound them, please correct me if i am wrong.

  14. It is perhaps worth noting this from Daily Telegraph – May 28 2009//Police sirens should be used only when “absolutely necessary” because the sound can make areas seem “more dangerous”, according to Sir Paul Stephenson, the chief of the Metropolitan Police. “Is there something we can do to reduce our contribution to the cacophony of noise in London? Because I do live in London and listen at night to all the sirens.”

    He also said paramedics and firefighters must also bear responsibility for their contribution to the “cacophony”.//

  15. I'm 55 and the father of two sets of twin girls, the youngest of which are 19…My girls certainly weren't routinely allowed out at that time of night at 16.There were odd exceptions like school proms, parties (supervised only) etc, but we insisted on delivering them there and picking them up afterwards…

    This wasn't just us…most of the other parents were equally protective…I don't think you can generalise…

  16. Is there really more child abuse, or do we just hear about it more often ? The Police say that the numbers of children randomly picked up and abused hasn't changed in over 50 years but the moment something happens its all over the media so every parent is (apparently) terrified. This would indicate to me that the crime hasn't increased but the fear of crime has been ramped up by people who have a vested interested in selling terrible news.More relevant to this point, I think you'll find the statistics show that most abuse happens within families. Therefore these kids were probably SAFER from abuse by wandering the streets at midnight.

  17. Ok, Sewmouse the Devil's Advocate weighs in:1) The article linked only says that the boys were riding in “the early hours of the morning” – no specific time given that I could see. This makes me wonder whether they were out LATE – 12:01 a.m.-ish? or whether they had gotten an EARLY start – 4:30? 5:30?

    2) At age 16, I had a part-time job at a fast-food outlet that served breakfast. The “opening” part of the shift (before the actual restaurant opened) started around 5:30. There's a lot of set-up involved. Could the boys have been biking to their jobs?

    3) This was a Saturday morning. Quite possible they'd plans for the day and wanted an early start. I know that my brother and his friends would charge out of the house before breakfast sometimes on weekends even when they were quite small, to go fishing down at the local pond.

    It is a tragedy – both for the kid, his family and for the police involved. I just don't think that blaming the parents for lack of supervision is necessarily correct.

  18. Yes, the only time I've actually hit anything commuting in Cambridge by bike, is another bike I couldn't see because the idiot felt that stealth technology was a good idea.

  19. Clairey, you are right about the law on 'audible warnings'. A qualified 'blue light' driver can take exemption from certain traffic laws, including this one, PROVIDED that they can justify that exemption. Using sirens at night is not often necessary in my experience.

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