90 days from today is Wed, 30 December 2020
11 March 2020
A local MP has voiced his support for the Police Powers and Protections Bill which will establish a Police Covenant and give police drivers better protection in law.
Mike Wood, the Conservative MP for Dudley South and Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Home Office, discussed the bill during a meeting with West Midlands Police Federation chair Jon Nott and deputy secretary Tim Rogers at his constituency office.
“He is very supportive of the bill and doesn’t think there will be much objection to it,” explains Jon, “He is also very interested in the Police Covenant and agrees that it should be put into legislation to ensure that all forces offer the same level of support to officers.”
Tim, who is also the national Police Federation’s pursuits driving lead, has spearheaded the campaign for a change in legislation that would see police drivers’ skills and training taken into account in law. They are currently judged against the standards of the careful and competent driver often leading them to face criminal investigation simply for doing their job and using the specialist training they have been given.
On the brink of seeing better legal protection for police drivers, Tim has now set his sights on securing an amendment to Section 163 of the Road Traffic Act that would give police officers the power to make someone get out of their vehicle when they have stopped them and discussed this with Mr Wood.
“Essentially, this is all about officer safety. We are seeing more and more people willing to use vehicles in an aggressive way. In our Force area alone, there are three incidents a week in which someone uses a vehicle against an officer as if it was a weapon. Last year, two of our officers received life-threatening injuries in these type of attacks and they could so easily have been killed,” says Tim.
“We need to reduce the danger to officers in that phase of stopping and obtaining more information when they are so vulnerable. Currently, it is all too common for officers to have to deal with people who have seen a YouTube video about freemen on the land or sovereign citizens or they face someone who is just difficult, drunk or obnoxious or a known criminal. They refuse to get out of a car when asked and then deal with officers conducting a police stop through a 1mm gap at the top of the window.
“This thwarts the development of grounds for breath tests, drug wipes, stop and account, stop and search, and so, in effect, pretty much all proactive policing. It also makes stops on fast roads much less safe and can put police officers at risk as vehicles pass the stop at speed. We have a weight of evidence showing officers being driven at and injured, seriously and otherwise.
“The simple addition of a (1A) to s163 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 could mean that where a vehicle has been stopped by police the occupants must comply with a direction to leave the vehicle. This would be very welcome to operational PCs and many others.”
Tim has already put together an initial submission for the amendment required to the Department for Transport and the Home Office and this was well received. He has also gained initial support in principle from the national Federation and has asked national chair John Apter to discuss the issue with the Home Secretary at a meeting scheduled for next week.
During the meeting with the Federation, Mr Wood also agreed that the Government needs to come up with better long-term funding arrangements for forces so they can properly plan to meet future demand.
“Overall, this was a very positive meeting and we were pleased to find a local MP who listened to our views and supported us on so many issues,” says Jon.
West Midlands Police Federation wrote to all the region’s MPs after the General Election, seeking a meeting to share members’ concerns and discuss the challenges of modern day policing.