90 days from today is Mon, 12 October 2020
24 September 2019
Trained police drivers should be backed by the law so that they can use their skills when responding to incidents, according to West Midlands Police Federation deputy secretary Tim Rogers.
Tim, who is the national lead on response driving for the Police Federation, was interviewed on Monday’s Inside Out programme in a feature asking whether emergency drivers should abide by the same rules as other motorists.
Tim has led a campaign calling for police response drivers to be judged against the standard of the trained police driver rather than the current standard of the careful and competent driving member of the public.
But, in the Inside Out interview, he was asked if this change in the law would give police drivers a ‘get out of jail card’ and whether the public would be right to expect emergency response drivers to be judged in the same way as other motorists.
Tim argued that if the public wanted that they would also have to accept that police drivers may not be able to get quickly to incidents – citing the London Bridge terror attack as one example of where police needed to be able to respond quickly to protect the public and also mentioning the crimes carried out by moped-riding criminals where again the public expected the police to react immediately.
“The current laws are not allowing police officers to use the specialist skills they have been taught to use when serving the public,” says Tim.
During the programme, Tim pointed out that on a normal blue light, officers would be driving at excess speed, going through red traffic lights and contravening various traffic signs – all of which a member of the public would not be trained to do.
The programme also featured paramedics and ambulance crew who talked about the need to balance the needs of looking after themselves, patients and the public while also being aware that they are not exempt from prosecution for driving offences.
The Home Office starts a series of focus groups on 2 October to test the drafted new legislation relating to response driving against some previous cases, seeing what decisions may be made and getting the Crown Prosecution Service to apply the test and so on.
Tim explains: “The legislation is drafted but it needs this work to ensure that it will actually work. Then we will be waiting for Parliamentary time to take it forward but we are actually making good progress. This can’t be rushed.
“It is, of course, unacceptable that we are currently in the perverse position of officers doing their job knowing that even when they are driving according to their skills and training they could face prosecution.
“But we are changing the law so it reflects the specialist skills they have and this change in legislation is definitely going to happen; this is something we have never been able to say previously.”