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Wiltshire Police Federation

Greater legal protection for members a step closer

15 September 2021

Polfed News

Police officers are one step closer to being better protected by law following a successful meeting between Federation representatives and members of the House of Lords.

The PFEW Parliamentary Subcommittee met with Lord Hogan-Howe, Lord Bach and Lord Coaker yesterday (14 September) at New Scotland Yard to press for three amendments to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill to support officers.

Figures show one in four roads policing officers were subjected to a vehicle being used as weapon against them during the past year.

One proposal would see drivers not only stop under section 163, but to also switch off their engine. PFEW is also suggesting police officers should have the power to ask occupants of the vehicle to exit upon request.

As part of our Police Drivers campaign, we are also calling for the law to protect officers who have to engage in pursuits.

Thanks to years of PFEW lobbying, a new legal test will be applied meaning their driving will be measured against that of a ‘careful and competent police driver’- but this could still leave officers exposed.

We are pushing the Government to consider adding a reasonableness defence clause to the bill to give officers flexibility to act instinctively to keep the public safe.

This would take into account what officers believe they are responding to and the threat that is posed. Training cannot account for all situations and officers need to be able to act to keep the public safe.

Members caught up in disciplinary matters in the future are also closer to being treated more fairly by the system.

Via our long-running Time Limits campaign, we are fighting for police disciplinary investigations to be concluded within 12 months from the moment an allegation is made.

We are proposing legislation which would give legally qualified persons power to impose deadlines on investigations which have dragged on for a year.

Our tabled amendments, which have already gained cross-party support, will now be taken forward to the committee stage and will be discussed in detail by the House of Lords.

Commenting on the positive meeting, PFEW Parliamentary Sub-committee Secretary Tiff Lynch, said: “It was a really important day for the Parliamentary Sub-committee where Met Fed Chair Ken Marsh, Tim Rogers, Phill Matthews, PFEW Welsh Lead Nicky Ryan and myself, met peers from the House of Lords prior to the debate on the second reading of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

“It will now move into the committee stage, and I am really grateful to those peers in the House of Lords to be showing us so much support for our amendments. We will continue pushing towards a change in legislation which will support and protect our members.”

PFEW Pursuits and Driver Training Lead Tim Rogers added: “It is exceptional news that peers understand the amendments we have tabled and what is required.

“They have agreed they are an essential aspect of making the bill fit for purpose to ensure our colleagues covering the millions of miles of our roads network to keep the public safe are given the support and protection they deserve and are not penalised for doing their jobs.

“To make the bill achieve what legislators intended we need this amendment.”

PFEW Conduct and Performance Lead Phill Matthews, on our Time Limits campaign, said: “We’ve explained our rationale on why we think it is important for both complainants, members of the public and our police colleagues to get complaints dealt with within a 12-month time scale – or if not to have some legal oversight on why the investigations isn’t moving at a reasonable and fair pace. The lords have understood that and are prepared to support that in the bill which is great news.”