Cleveland Police superintendent filmed using his mobile phone while driving

A video grab of Superintendent Mark Thornton using his mobile phone while driving. Pic: PA.
A video grab of Superintendent Mark Thornton using his mobile phone while driving. Pic: PA.

A senior police officer who headed a roads policing unit said he has "let a lot of people down" after he was filmed using a mobile phone while driving.

Superintendent Mark Thornton will be investigated after a member of the public recorded him driving away from Cleveland Police's Middlesbrough headquarters in his private car.

Cleveland Police headquarters in Middlesbrough.

Cleveland Police headquarters in Middlesbrough.

Until recently Mr Thornton headed the Cleveland and Durham Specialist Operations Unit, which is responsible for traffic. Its work featured on the Channel 5 TV programme Police Interceptors.

Mr Thornton issued an apology, saying: "As a serving police officer I'm more aware than most of the potentially devastating consequences of driving whilst distracted.

"This is no small thing, and the consequences for pedestrians and other roads users can be fatal, which is why we have recently seen changes to the law, increasing penalty points and fines for driving while using a mobile phone.

"I'm very sorry, not because of the impact on me - it's my responsibility and no one else's - but to those I feel I've let down.

"Policing is a job I love and in which I've carried out my duties to the best of my abilities over 27 years.

"I have let a lot of people down, not least myself. I will fully accept the consequences of my actions."

Cleveland Police said it will investigate Mr Thornton, who is now working in business transformation for the force.

Assistant Chief Constable Jason Harwin said: “In accordance with legislation, Superintendent Mark Thornton has been issued with a fixed penalty notice.

"The normal administrative process will lead to an offer to him of going to court or accepting a fine of £200 and six points on his licence.

“As he made clear in his statement, Supt Thornton continues to be very sorry for his actions, not because of the impact on him personally but because of those he feels he’s let down.

"He fully accepts what he’s done and has stated his willingness to accept the consequences.

“The matter is still currently being considered by the Force.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger added: “I’ve made it very clear in my Police and Crime Plan that I’m committed to reducing injury and death on the roads.

“The introduction earlier this year of harsher punishments for illegal mobile phone use whilst driving will help to make this a reality.

“The law applies as much to police officers as it does to anyone else. It’s right that this officer has apologised for his actions and that Cleveland Police is now investigating the material received.