Detective’s 12-month ban after drink drive arrest

Det Chief Supt David Knopwood arriving at Harrogate Magistrates court to face charges of drink driving.
Det Chief Supt David Knopwood arriving at Harrogate Magistrates court to face charges of drink driving.

A senior police detective has admitted failing to provide a breath specimen after being arrested in Knaresborough.

Detective Chief Superintendent David Knopwood, of West Yorkshire Police, was banned from driving for 12 months when he appeared at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court.

The court heard Knopwood, who lives in Knaresborough, failed a roadside breath test when he was stopped in the town by officers from the North Yorkshire force on the evening of April 28 - the day his officers were investigating the fatal stabbing of Leeds teacher Ann Maguire.

He had been seen by police driving extremely slowly and when asked if he had consumed any alcohol, he told officers that he had drunk two pints. In the roadside breath test Knopwood, 48, was measured as being almost twice the legal drink drive limit. Police recorded he had 60 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml of breath. The legal limit is 35.

The court heard that on the way to the police station Knopwood had banged his head on the back of the police van and was told he would be able to see a doctor. When they arrived at the station Knopwood refused to give the crucial evidential breath test and was taken to hospital. At hospital he was quickly assessed and released back to custody without any treatment.

John Dye, defending Knopwood, said: “This is a tragic case but perhaps for the public at large this conviction means that the community may lose a dedicated, hardworking and talented public servant.”

The court heard that Knopwood had gone to the pub on his own to unwind, read a newspaper and watch football. He was said to be “shocked and surprised” at the readings given by the breath test. He was described in court as a man of integrity who had risen to the top echelons throughout his career.

Knopwood, who has been a police officer for 24 years, is head of West Yorkshire Police’s protective services (crime), the division that is responsible for all major criminal investigations in the force. He wrote the force’s Operation Newgreen report into officers’ relationship with Jimmy Savile and the court heard he had routinely been commended in every job he did.

Mr Dye said: “He has been involved in high profile work throughout his career. In hindsight he probably just took on too much at work.”

Knopwood was suspended from duty after being arrested.

Chair magistrate David Gravells said: “Failure to provide a specimen for analysis is a matter which this or any other court treats with great difficulty. Inevitably, given your background, even more so.”

Knopwood was disqualified from driving for 12 months and ordered to pay a total of £1,185 in fines and costs.

After the hearing, Detective Chief Supt Andy Brennan, head of professional standards for the force, said: “WYP expects the very highest standards of its officers and staff, both on and off duty. This case clearly demonstrates the serious consequences when someone falls below that standard. Following today’s hearing we will quickly move to conclude the disciplinary process.”