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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Critically important police officers do not drive if they are not licensed under new legislation

8 August 2023

Chief Constables have been urged to ensure their forces are fully compliant with the new police driving legislation, to prevent officers being vulnerable to prosecution.

Above all, it is crucial that officers must not drive if they are not licensed under Statutory Instrument 1112.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 changed the law to ensure that police officers’ skills and training can now be considered, rather than their driving being judged by the standards of a careful and competent member of the public. This came into effect on 30 November last year.

But it has emerged that some forces have been employing driving instructors who are not licensed. So Tim Rogers, the Police Federation’s National Lead for Pursuits and Driver Training, has written to all chief officers in England and Wales to emphasise that their officers cannot drive if they are not licensed under Statutory Instrument 1112, and that forces must only use licensed police driving trainers.

Mark Loker, Chair of Avon and Somerset Police Federation, said: “I have spoken with our driver training manager and am encouraged, grateful and confident that Avon and Somerset are complying with the requirements of the new legislation.

“It is absurd in my mind that police officers find themselves on the wrong side of the law or facing conduct investigations when we are doing the job we are trained to do - and the job the public would expect us to do and our forces and chief officers must step up to ensure we have access to the right training, delivered by the right people.

“The issues came because officers were previously judged by the standards of the careful and competent driving member of the public but clearly many of the manoeuvres police carry out when fulfilling their duties are not normal for members of the public.

“The new legislation means that police officers’ driving will be judged by the standard of their peers, in line with their skills and training, but there are criteria attached to that – drivers have to be licensed and up to date with their training and that training has to be delivered by fully accredited trainers.”

Mark added: “Anything that affords us greater protections not just from the danger we face, but also from overzealous IOPC investigations and criminal repercussions when all we are doing is our jobs and saving lives has got to be considered a good thing, but as ever caution must be applied.”

Tim wrote: “It is critically important that police officers do not drive if they are not licensed under this legislation. There is no movement on this whatsoever. Senior police officers, regardless of rank, cannot extend or grant an officer’s permit under any circumstances."

He continued: “It is imperative that officers’ driver training is delivered by a driver trainer who has been licensed by the College of Policing. Once again, there is no leeway. Training delivered by a non-licensed person is invalid and will leave officers in a vulnerable position. Some forces have been found to have instructors employed who are not licensed.”

Tim stressed that licensed firearms instructors are not driver trainers and that they cannot teach any driving tactics. He said that the new Subject Matter Experts (SME) group were the only people with the ability to accurately assess the most up-to-date standards.

He added: “For local driving matters requiring assessment against the new standard, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) is mandating a model for all forces to follow, and this needs to be implemented soon. Driving standards units are key to assessing what was once a breach of policy but which is now a breach of the law.”

Tim told chief officers: “This is a generational change for policing; one that improves confidence for both officers and the public. To ensure this legislative change achieves its policy objectives it needs your full support.”