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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

Police driving legislation update:

8 August 2019

Police driving legislation update:

The Federation has enlisted the support of the senior government backbencher Sir Henry Bellingham MP, who introduced his Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament in December 2017. The Bill was accepted with cross party sponsors on that occasion but is still awaiting its second reading.

Separately, the Home Office proposed the establishment of a new driving standard, a 'careful and competent police driver' as a means of providing officers with the legal protections the Federation has called for. In our consultation response to the Home Office in summer 2018, PFEW argued that a new driving standard for police officers would have the effect of raising the bar and could result in more, not fewer, prosecutions. We proposed instead that there should be greater exemptions for police under the current legal standard. The IOPC and CPS have also been supportive of our preferred way forward.

The Home Office is also in agreement and confirmed this publicly on 2nd May 2019 through the release of a Written Ministerial Statement, but PFEW campaigning will continue until warm words are translated into a change of legislation. Policing Minister Nick Hurd issued a Written Ministerial Statement committing the government to correct the 'gross unfairness' in legislation which leaves police drivers vulnerable to prosecution. PFEW welcomes the move but calls on the Home Office to set out a timeline for change.

The Home Office continue to look at legislation designed to protect Police drivers who, in the course of their duties, drive tactically in breach of current legislation. They are consulting with NPCC and others to find a way to provide adequate protection nationally for colleagues. There has been a statement which highlights three points:

1: Government State that what professional officers are trained to do and the tactics they use are in breach of the current legislation.
2: HMG give open support to all the tactics used within the tactics directory and have claimed credit for the tactics used by the MET re op Venice ( now included in the tac directory )
3: That they agree with PFEW , legislation needs to change in order to recognise this.

There is a will to introduce new primary legislation however, the parliamentary timetable is restricted due to Brexit and associated issues. It is possible that legislation could be brought forward in the Queen’s speech or as a separate Bill.

In the meantime, our advice is to drive to the current rules. If you stray from the constraints of a competent and careful driver you must be able to justify your actions. Any infringements of the Road Traffic laws with the exception of red lights, speed and Keep Left bollards (for which we have specific exemptions) may result in a prosecution.

We will update you with the progress of the Bill to legislation.