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16 March 2018
GMP drivers remain under the threat of prosecution after the second reading of The Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill was pulled at the last minute.
MPs had been due to hear the second reading of the bill, which aims to give emergency response drivers better protection from prosecution, on March 16th.
However, it was pulled from Parliament’s agenda earlier in the week to allow for the completion of an ongoing review which will investigate ‘the law and best practice regarding police pursuits.’
The bill is now expected to be given its second reading on July 6th.
The Police Federation Of England and Wales has fought long and hard for a revision to the bill to protect their members from unfair prosecutions.
The Federation’s Pursuits Lead Tim Rogers says the delay is a ‘bitter blow’.
“To get this disappointing news just hours away from a key legislative milestone, which had already secured cross-party support, is a bitter blow – and all the more devastating.
“What are our members and fellow emergency response drivers to do in the meantime?
“How many more lives could be ruined going through lengthy legal proceedings – ultimately criminalising officers for just doing their job?”
The current legislation allows no exemptions for police pursuits meaning police drivers can be held liable for ‘dangerous driving’ even when in pursuit.
The law also doesn’t take into account the high level of specialised training officers are given.
Tim says it means officers have to try and do their job with ‘one hand tied behind their back.’
“We have fought extremely hard for more than seven years to get to this point, liaising with the Home Office, National Police Chiefs’ Council, MPs from all parties and many, many other stakeholders,” he added.
“We finally thought the end was in sight, with a workable solution which would help protect our 120,000 plus members from prosecution for just doing their jobs, only to have it snatched from us at the last minute.
“The Government says it ‘remains broadly supportive of the intention behind the Private Members Bill’ and we know a review is ongoing.
“But this news will be a real blow to our specially-trained police drivers and the other emergency services who will now face an indefinite period continuing to run the risk of possibly losing their jobs if they respond to a ‘blue-light’ call.
“We will not stop campaigning for this important legislative change and we will also now have to consider our position and what advice to issue to members.
"The Government needs to put its money where its mouth is on this.”
In December, Policing Minister Nick Hurd supported the bill in Parliament, after it had been introduced by senior backbench MP, Sir Henry Bellingham.
The bill was accepted with cross party sponsors and no dissent.