A NEW police team has been launched to investigate fatalities on North Yorkshire’s roads.

The Major Collision Investigation Team will take over from local officers following collisions, allowing them to get back on patrol sooner.

The team is made up of a sergeant and six constables, headed up by road policing Inspector Mick Barron.

Based in Thirsk, the team will also be involved in speaking to the witnesses and families of people killed or injured on the roads, and will work alongside the existing Collision Investigation Unit, which carries out forensic examinations at the scenes of crashes.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said: “Sadly, fatal and serious collisions are a major part of police work and require meticulous and intensive resourcing to enable us to obtain the appropriate outcome for victims and their families. This work can take up thousands of hours of police officers’ time.

“Having a dedicated resource for these investigations means that roads policing officers can get back on to the roads.”

Preliminary figures show that last year, police dealt with 46 fatal collisions in which 51 people, including 16 motorcyclists, died, up from 35 fatal crashes (35 dead, three motorcyclists), the previous year.

The team have been phased in to work on collision incidents in recent months, including the crash on the B1248 near Wharram which killed three people, including a mother and her son.

They will also gather evidence through interviewing suspects and witnesses, and deal with the Crown Prosecution Service and coroner, to build prosecutions against motorists at fault.

Insp Barron said: “Investigations can involve dealing with distraught families who have lost loved ones, witnesses who may have seen very distressing events and victims who have sustained life-changing injuries.

“The team will provide a constant, single point of contact and expert knowledge base for North Yorkshire Police as well as enabling local officers to get back out to patrolling the roads and trying to prevent collisions happening in the first place.”