Drivers stranded for three days as a result of heavy snow in South Yorkshire last winter could have died because of the slow police response, a report has concluded.
The report was produced by the county’s emergency services, including South Yorkshire Police, after 200 drivers were stranded for three days on the A57 Worksop Road between Todwick and Worksop as a result of heavy snow.
The report found the police took too long to grasp the scale of the situation last December.
During one of the heaviest snowfalls in South Yorkshire for years, motorists and lorry drivers were stuck in drifts on the road.
Local residents stepped in, providing hot refreshments and setting up a temporary dormitory in a village hall and mountain rescue teams eventually helped South Yorkshire Police remove motorists from their vehicles.
The report found there was a ‘lack of co-ordination’ between the emergency services in the early stages.
There was also a ‘lack of understanding’ of the scale of the incident initially, which meant an effective response was delayed.
The report said South Yorkshire Police failed to recognise a ‘critical incident’ was taking place, leading to a 12-hour delay before a proper command structure was set up.
It said it was ‘highly likely’ motorists would have died in the cold without the help of residents.
Chf Supt Keith Lumley, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “We had not seen anything like this in hundreds of years.
“Because we have now experienced it, we are able to update the emergency plans and resources we’ve got.”
He added the force had made ‘significant changes’ since last winter to ensure the seriousness of such incidents could be identified earlier in future.