The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the involvement of Hertfordshire police officers before a crash on the M25 where two people died.
The man and the woman were killed in a four-vehicle crash when a stolen van was allegedly driven the wrong way on the motorway.
Hertfordshire Police, in a marked vehicle, had been following a stolen white Citroen Dispatch on the M1 at 3.40am on Sunday, February 4.
The officers activated their vehicle’s lights and sirens in an attempt to stop the driver of the van. After it failed to stop, they initiated a pursuit, which was abandoned because the risk of continuing was considered too high.
There was a subsequent pursuit of the van shortly before 4am on Breakspear Way, Hemel Hempstead, which was again abandoned a few minutes later.
A short time later, the van was seen by a police officer travelling on the wrong side of the M25. The officer followed the van on the correct side of the road, but did not activate the vehicle’s lights or sirens.
At approximately 4.08am, the van was involved in a collision with other vehicles on the M25 between Junctions 21a and 22 (Watford and St Albans). The other vehicles were a silver DFSK 580 Glory, a silver Skoda Superb, and a black Peugeot 5008.
The woman who died has been named Zoe Hawes, from Canvey Island, who was travelling to go on holiday to celebrate her 40th birthday. The man who died was in another vehicle.
The driver of the van, a man in his 20s, was taken to hospital where they remain in a serious condition. A criminal investigation into the fatal crash is being carried out by Essex Police. He has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
Detective Inspector Mark Fraser, from Essex Police, said: “Our thoughts are with the loved ones of those who lost their lives in this collision.
“I am appealing for any witnesses or anyone with information to get in touch. Did you see what happened or the events leading up to the collision? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you can help.
“I also want to ask any dashcam owners who were driving in the area to check it and get in touch if you spot something that might help us.”
A spokesperson for the IOPC said: “We are gathering and reviewing evidence as we piece together the circumstances surrounding this incident. This includes securing and reviewing police dashcam footage and officers’ body-worn video footage, obtaining motorway CCTV and reviewing police call logs and radio transmissions.”
IOPC Regional Director Charmaine Arbouin said: “Our thoughts are with all those affected by this tragic incident. Given that police officers were pursuing one of the vehicles before the fatal collision, it’s important that we independently investigate the actions and decision-making of the officers involved.
“We will ensure that our enquiries do not impede the police investigation, and we will keep those involved regularly updated.”