A MAN is critically ill in hospital after his car and a police car were involved in a head-on collision on the road between Sixpenny Handley and Cranborne last week.

The man, who is in his early 60s and from the Bournemouth area, was airlifted to hospital in Dorchester, where his condition was said to be critical, but stable.

Dorset police have made an urgent appeal for witnesses and want to hear from anyone who saw the two vehicles prior to the collision, which happened just before 4.40pm on Tuesday last week.

The crash happened on the B3081 and involved a white Volvo police car and a red Austin Maestro City saloon.

The police car, with two officers from the Ferndown-based road policing unit, was travelling west towards Sixpenny Handley and the Maestro was travelling in the opposite direction, towards Cranborne.

The two vehicles collided about a mile west of Creech Hill House.

The Maestro driver, a painter and decorator, was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital, in Dorchester, by the Dorset and Somerset air ambulance.

The two police officers were taken by road ambulance to Poole Hospital and treated for minor injuries.

The road was closed for almost eight hours.

Chief Inspector Glen Chalk, of Dorset police's road policing unit, said the police car had been responding to an incident relating to the recovery of stolen property in the north Dorset area.

He said: "I understand the police car had its blue lights on.

"I am appealing to anyone who might have seen the two vehicles just before 4.40pm to contact the police as soon as possible.

"Our thoughts are with the family of the injured car driver at this very stressful time, as well as with the two police officers involved in the collision."

The incident is being investigated by Dorset police, who have also referred it voluntarily to the Police Complaints Authority.

Anyone with information can contact Dorset police, on 01202 222500, or Crimestoppers, 0800 555 111.