29 January 2019
On the morning of the national Roads Policing Conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire, the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has a simple message for the Government: We cannot wait any longer - act now to change legislation to recognise police driver training.
As things stand, 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’.
Too many of our members have endured lengthy and traumatic criminal investigations or disciplinary processes for simply doing the job they have been trained to do. Perversely, in some cases officers have even been held to account for the reckless actions of the criminals they have pursued.
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.
John Apter, PFEW’s National Chair said: “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. 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. With every day that passes, police officers are continuing to risk their liberty and livelihood just for doing their job.
“It is disappointing that the Transport Minister cancelled his attendance at our Roads Policing Conference - 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.”
PFEW’s national Roads Policing Conference takes place at the Jury’s Inn Hotel, Hinckley Island, Leicestershire today and tomorrow (29-30 January) with the theme ‘Officer Welfare Matters’.
Response drives are high on the agenda, as well as fatigue, trauma exposure, impartiality bias and contamination in evidence gathering. It will hear from officers and stakeholders including Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh MP, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council Roads Policing Lead, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham.
This conference is the only one of its kind in the country covering roads policing issues and will also give recognition to officers for outstanding contributions to this area of policing.
Find out more about our Roads Policing Conference