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Prom night horror show as students fined for not wearing seat belts




A teenager is in an induced coma following a collision at Westry - now police are appealing for witnesses. (2109358)
A teenager is in an induced coma following a collision at Westry - now police are appealing for witnesses. (2109358)

A group of University Academy Holbeach students saw their prom night turn into a real-life horror show after they were ticketed for not wearing seat belts.

The students were on their way to the annual Year 11 prom at the school in Park Road, Holbeach, on Friday night when they were pulled over by an “absolutely furious and intimidating” police officer.

Lincolnshire Police has launched an internal investigation into the officer’s actions which, as a result, have left four students facing fines of £100 each which could rise to £500 if they are taken to court.

Police (2827044)
Police (2827044)

Mark von Haartman (63), of Holbeach Hurn and a parent of one of the students involved, has made a formal complaint to Lincolnshire Police over the officer’s handling of the situation which he slammed as having “resembled that of a police chase preventing the escape of criminals from the scene of a crime.”

Mr von Haartman said: “It was my daughter’s prom night on Friday, a very special night for her and her friends after many months of studying and revising for their GCSE exams.

“They are all exceptional students and this was a chance for them to let their hair down and celebrate.

“We had arranged two special cars to celebrate the event and our group of over a dozen people were driven to one of the children’s house close to the school.

“Then we set off in convoy along High Street, Holbeach at about 5mph, joined by all sorts of special vehicles, with the children all dressed very smartly.

“We stopped off at the traffic lights on High Street before turning right into Park Road when we heard a siren and this police car overtook us before veering violently to the left, cutting off our path to the school.

“The police officer then jumped out of the car, absolutely furious and out of all proportion to the situation.”

Mr von Haartman claimed that the police officer “ordered” his daughter and her friend to sit in the back of the police car while he tried to explain that they were going to the prom.

He said: “The police officer came up to me and said ‘Have you ever been to an accident where the passenger wasn’t wearing a seat belt?’

“I explained that the girls were only 16, that we were only going at 5mph and, as the driver of the car, I was responsible for them wearing seat belts.”

However, according to the Motor Vehicles (Wearing of Seat Belts) Regulations 1993, passengers aged 14 and over are held responsible for not wearing a seat belt in the front and back of vehicles.

Mr von Haartman said: “The police officer started questioning the girls in the police car, with all the windows closed.

“I tapped on the window and asked if I could get in the car.

“But the police officer said ‘There’s no room’, although the front passenger seat was empty, except for a police jacket and some electrical equipment on the seat.

“Later, two more policeman arrived who I approached and explained the situation to.

“Both officers were very pleasant and one of them said he would go over and speak to their colleague who was questioning the girls.

“But when he came back, the officer said there was nothing he could do as his colleague was first on the scene and it was their decision to issue the girls with the tickets.”

According to Mr von Haartman, the girls’ ordeal ended after “nearly 60 minutes” when they released and the police officer “screamed off with her lights flashing and siren blaring”.

Mr von Haartman said: “I understand that on Sunday, the police visited the homes of the two students who were in the back of other special car to lecture them about the importance of wearing a seatbelt before they were given tickets as well.

Police and crime news. (2860672)
Police and crime news. (2860672)

“My daughter and her friend were both very, very upset immediately after they were questioned because a whole crowd of people had gathered round to watch it happening.

“But when they finally got to the prom, they had a lovely time.

“I just don’t believe that the police acted proportionately and I’d argue that more discretion could have been applied to the situation.

“What I worry about is the effect that my daughter’s first direct and frightening encounter with a police officer will affect her perception of the police for years to come.”

Inspector Gareth Boxall, neighbourhood policing inspector for South Holland, said: “Along with drink/drug driving, mobile phone use and excess speed, not wearing a seatbelt is one of our ‘Fatal4’ motoring offences.

Inspector Gareth Boxall, neighbourhood policing inspector for South Holland. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG190517-200TW. (2892212)
Inspector Gareth Boxall, neighbourhood policing inspector for South Holland. Photo by Tim Wilson. SG190517-200TW. (2892212)

Inspector Gareth Boxall, neighbourhood policing inspector for South Holland, said: “Along with drink/drug driving, mobile phone use and excess speed, not wearing a seatbelt is one of our ‘Fatal4’ motoring offences.

“These are the four things that have been shown to contribute most to collisions where people are killed or seriously injured and it is clear that our officers were primarily concerned for the safety of those in the vehicles.

“However, the incident is being investigated by our Professional Standards Department and if there are things we could have done better, we are committed to learning from our experiences.

“I cannot offer further comment whilst the matter is under investigation.”



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