29 January 2019
The theme of this year’s conference - the only one of its kind in the UK - is officer wellbeing and welfare and these were very much at the forefront of what speakers at the event spoke of during their presentations.
Police drivers campaign
Attendees had been hoping to hear that the campaign which the Federation has been running for the past seven years - to alter the legislation that would see police drivers receive greater legal protection when involved in incidents that result from pursuit driving - was making progress.
Our moves to make a change in the law that would protect all emergency service drivers, not just police officers, has made painfully slow progress through Parliament. Any update that might have been given by Jesse Norman MP and Minister of State for Transport was not forthcoming as he was unable to attend, due to parliamentary pressures, and sent a video instead making no mention of the issue. However Louise Haigh MP, Shadow Policing Minister, who also could not attend the event, sent a video message offering her continued support for the campaign.
Policing Minister Nick Hurd later took to Twitter to apologise for not being able to attend the conference and said: "I understand and share the frustration about the slow pace of progress on changing the law and processes around police pursuits in order to give trained police drivers more confidence. We need to bring everyone with us on this, including other departments and road safety advocates. We are working closely to get the detail right. The will is there I can assure you."
The Federation’s message remains unchanged: Government inaction continues to leave officers vulnerable.
Another key theme of the day was the length of time investigations by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) take following incidents involving police drivers. Delegates heard from two officers involved in an IOPC investigation which took three years to reach its conclusion, after which they were found not to have been responsible for the death of a moped driver.
The impact on an officer’s health and wellbeing during such protracted investigations by the IOPC is an issue that the Federation is also campaigning hard to address. It was therefore disappointing that the IOPC could not find anyone to attend the conference to hear for themselves the impact that their investigations have on officers - officers who after all are doing the job that the public expects of them.
The second day of the conference tomorrow will continue to address the important theme of officer welfare.
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