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23 August 2018
Police watchdog The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is backing proposals aimed at offering police pursuit drivers more protection in law.
Currently, officers’ high level of training and driving experience is not considered as a mitigating factor in law, meaning officers are seen the same as regular motorists and can be prosecuted as such.
In some cases, officers have been held liable for RTAs and injuries caused during the pursuit of fleeing suspects.
But now the IOPC, responsible for pursuing police complaints and misconduct cases, says that is unfair on police pursuit drivers, provided they have been trained to the ‘appropriate’ level – a decision which has been welcomed by the Police Federation of England and Wales.
The IOPC statement reads: “We support the intent that police officers who are appropriately trained and have been authorised to do so, should be able to pursue suspects or respond to emergencies without fear of prosecution or disciplinary action.
“Police drivers involved in pursuits or responding to emergencies are currently held to the driving standard of a ‘careful and competent’ motorist.
“We endorse the view that this does not take into account the expert training and experience of police drivers. We therefore agree with a proposal to change the driving standard to that of a ‘careful and competent police driver’.
“We would like the legislation to specifically state that this is a police driver ‘trained to the relevant appropriate standard.’ This separate standard will allow investigators and the Crown Prosecution Service to take account of a driver’s higher level of training and skill. It will also reinforce the importance of police drivers receiving high quality training.”
IOPC Deputy Director General Ian Todd said: “Police drivers need to pursue suspects and respond quickly to emergency calls as part of their duty – and that’s what the public want them to do.
“So, it’s right that their training and skills are properly recognised in law.”
The PFEW has been campaigning to consign the issue to the rear-view mirror and Roads Policing Lead Sgt Tim Rogers said: “It is positive that the IOPC supports the intent that police officers who are appropriately trained and authorised, should be able to pursue suspects or respond to emergencies without fear of prosecution or disciplinary action.
“It is unacceptable to have officers trained to drive in a way that exposes them to prosecution merely for doing the job the public expect of them.
“This is an issue we have been campaigning on now for several years and although it is a positive step that the government has finally agreed that a legislation change is required, they must now act quickly to prevent more officers suffering unnecessary and often mendacious prosecutions,” he added.
“It is crucial we protect the people who protect us and give them the confidence to be able to do their jobs and keep the public safe."
Read the full IOPC statement here: https://policeconduct.gov.uk/news/iopc-welcomes-aim-proposed-changes-law-governing-police-driving