Witness or Suspect? Does pursuits legislation really protect police drivers?

18 May 2016

Are police pursuit drivers properly protected under the law?

That’s the question that will be discussed by a panel of roads policing experts at the Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual conference later today.
Representatives of the law, and from the Federation and National Police Chiefs’ Council will talk in-depth about the law as it stands, and if and how it needs to change.
The discussion around the legislation and protection for police drivers has been bubbling for a few years, and was recently highlighted at the PFEW Roads Policing Conference in January.

At the time, lawyer Mark Aldred, gave the advice that officers involved in pursuits and response drives should seek legal advice before making statements about incidents, even if told they are only being interviewed as a witness.

“For police officers who enter into pursuits, the reality is, if the political will is there, they could be prosecuted for dangerous driving offences,” he said. Pursuits fall squarely into the definition of “dangerous driving” he said, and that while it might seem surprising, there was “no legislation that gives officers an exemption from prosecution”.
The PFEW, is working closely with chief constables and other emergency response organisations to draft a change in the legislation.

Tim Rogers, pursuits lead for PFEW, is leading the proposal to have legislation changed. He said: “We have explored what changes could be made, and have gained the backing of everyone we speak to on this matter. We believe this legislation change is possible, and our next step is finding the right parliamentary sponsor to help us get the changes taken to Westminster.”

The panel will include:
Mark Aldred, lawyer, QEB Hollis Whiteman
Constable Jayne Willets, PFEW roads policing lead
Deputy Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC Police Pursuits lead
Constable Tim Rogers, PFEW pursuits lead

The panel will convene at 1.15pm on Wednesday 18 May in Windsor Hall at the Bournemouth International Centre. 

Watch the conference live