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30 January 2019
Greater Manchester Police Federation is demanding legislative change for police drivers – and that it happens now.
Federation Chairman Stu Berry also said the no-show of the Transport Minister at the PFEW National Roads Policing Conference is evidence that policing is not a Government ‘priority’.
Speaking at the conference in Leicestershire, Stu said GMP Federation stood behind the PFEW which is insisting the training that police response and pursuit drivers receive must be recognised in law.
Unless that changes, the advice given to police drivers by the Federation around how they pursue suspects may have be different.
“It is disconcerting that the Transport Minister did not attended the Roads Policing Conference,” Stu said.
“Whatever the reason, it seems that the police service is simply not a priority for this Government.
“With the increasing use of mopeds to facilitate acquisitive crime and increasing domestic burglaries to steal high powered vehicles; police officers need the protection of legislation to effectively fight crime on behalf of the public.
“Not tomorrow, next week or next year. We need these changes now”.
Currently officers are breaking the law every single time they are required to drive outside the common legal standard of a ‘careful and competent driver’.
It means they can be prosecuted under the same standards applied to the public.
PFEW Chairman John Apter said officers have been left at the mercy of legislation for far too long.
“The Federation has been arguing for over seven years that police officers should have legal protection, in the right circumstances, from the careless and dangerous driving standard,” he said.
“The Home Office and Government accepts the rationale and has committed to act, but we are still waiting on the findings of the consultation, and importantly a timeline of action,” he said.
“With every day that passes, police officers are continuing to risk their liberty and livelihood just for doing their job.
“My colleagues are trained to the highest levels in pursuit and response driving. Their only intention is to bring offenders to justice and to keep the public safe.
“Sadly, the law offers them absolutely no protection in doing what they have been trained to do. This is an untenable position, and the time has come for this to change.
“The Government has backed us into a corner where we may now have to reconsider the advice we are giving. As a police officer this saddens me, but this is not of our making.
“Such drastic action can be avoided, and I urge the Government to act now – stop procrastinating and recognise pursuit and response driver training in legislation.”
Mr Apter added that he too was disappointed the Transport Minister decided not to attend the conference at short notice.
“It would have been an ideal opportunity to redeem some ground with my colleagues,” he said.
“It would have been beneficial to use the platform to announce when the Government will change the legislation, they agree leaves our members vulnerable. Unfortunately, the Minister pulled out of attending only yesterday.”
The conference, held over two days, covered ‘Officer Welfare Matters’ with issues around response drives, officer fatigue, trauma exposure, impartiality bias and contamination in evidence gathering.