9 March 2021
Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton today welcomed a new criminal justice bill which will provide better welfare and legal safeguards for officers.
The bill, to be unveiled in Parliament today, includes a Police Covenant following extensive campaigning by the Federation, along with other new measures to support officers, police staff and their families.
And Tony called for the Government to underline its commitment to supporting officers by allowing them to have their coronavirus vaccines as soon as possible.
Tony said: “As a Federation, we’ve been campaigning for a Police Covenant to recognise the unique role our members perform and to support and protect them in their line of duty.
“I welcome the establishment of a covenant, and other measures in the bill that support my colleagues and recognise their sacrifices and bravery.
“But why wait until the bill becomes law to give real, tangible support to officers that they need right now?
“The Government can emphasise its commitment to the police today by moving frontline officers up the queue for the vaccine to ensure they’re protected against this potentially deadly virus.”
Alongside the establishment of the covenant, the bill legislates to double the maximum sentences for those convicted of assaulting emergency workers in England and Wales to two years – something the Federation has been campaigning for.
The new bill allows Special Constables to formally join the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) after years of the organisation campaigning and regular discussions with the Home Office, Association of Special Constabulary Officers (ASCO), the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) over the issue.
It also gives better protection to police officers involved in driving incidents, with the introduction of a new test to assess their standard of driving. The test permits courts to judge the standard against a ‘competent and careful peer’ with the same training, rather than with a member of the public.
Tony said: “It’s pleasing to see so many of the issues on which we’ve campaigned as a Federation included in this bill. They will make a real difference to officers on the ground.”
The measures in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, formerly the Police Powers and Protections Bill, were also welcomed by the national chair of the Federation.
John Apter said: “This bill contains a number of important changes we have been campaigning for over many years to give greater protection to police officers, and recognise the unpredictable, dangerous and demanding job they do.
“This is the first step to bring these changes into law; we must grab this opportunity and ensure the bill brings about a positive, meaningful and tangible difference for our colleagues.
“Our Protect the Protectors’ campaign brought about the original Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 which saw the maximum penalty for assaulting an emergency worker increase from six to 12 months. It is absolutely the right decision to see the maximum sentence being doubled, as the original tariff has proved completely ineffective. However, this increase in sentencing will mean nothing unless the sentencing guidelines are updated and made fit for purpose.
“This bill also means that Special Constables will now get the same legal protection and support as regular officers as members of the Police Federation. As a former Special myself, this is something I have been very passionate about. This is only right, Specials carry a warrant card and carry the same risk as regular officers, I’m proud that the Federation is opening its doors to them as members.
“For almost a decade, the Federation has been campaigning to bring about a positive change in the law to better protect police drivers. This new test will ensure my colleagues are more fairly treated in the eyes of the law. This change is much needed and long overdue.”