29 January 2019
The Government’s failure to change legislation to recognise police driver training is leaving officers vulnerable to prosecution even though they are using their training to do the job of protecting the public, national Federation chair John Apter has argued.
John spoke out after the transport minister pulled out of attending the Federation’s national roads policing conference, being held in Hinckley today and tomorrow, at short notice and said it was disappointing he could not address officers.
He explained: “This would have been an ideal opportunity to redeem some ground with my colleagues. 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.
“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 Police Federation of England and Wales has been working tirelessly to bring about better legal protection for our members but our patience has run dry.
“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.”
Under current legislation, police officers are breaking the law every time their duty requires them to drive outside of the common legal standard of a ‘careful and competent driver’.
This had led to officers enduring lengthy and traumatic criminal investigations or disciplinary processes for simply doing the job they have been trained to do.
The Crown Prosecution Service, Independent Office for Police Conduct, College of Policing, Department for Transport, Ministry of Justice and National Police Chiefs’ Council all agree that the law must change – but the Home Office continues to delay reporting the findings of a consultation that took place last summer on this very issue.
Dave Stokes, Leicestershire Police Federation chair, said despite the difficulties surrounding the legislation he was confident that in Leicestershire there has been huge investment in terms of post-incident procedures (PIP).
He explained: "For example, the chief officer team have invested in a new PIP suite, TRIM training, PIP training and a feeling of support towards key police witnesses. However, I do echo John Apter’s concerns in terms of a lack of support and understanding by both the Government and the IOPC."
Sir Henry Bellingham has put forward the Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill with the second reading provisionally scheduled for 15 March this year.