Progress being made to change law to better protect police drivers

26 January 2017

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers, PFEW lead on pursuits, speaking at the conference

Speaking at the Roads Policing Conference 2017 in Leicestershire today, the Police Federation of England and Wales, told delegates that better protection was still a key priority.

The current legislation leaves police drivers vulnerable, as there are no exemptions that take into account the high level of specialised training officers are given. All driving standards are measured against that of a 'competent and careful driver'.

Figures from PFEW show that in the 18 months from July 2015 to December 2016, 130 officers approached the Federation for advice while under investigation for on-duty related driving matters.

The overall legal cost to members over those 18 months was in the region of £135,000. However, as Tim Rogers, lead on pursuits for the Federation, points out, that’s not a true cost.

"Monetary figures don’t take into account all the other factors – for example the huge emotional cost to officers and their families, the cost of retraining someone who’s been on restricted duties for three years, or the sick leave costs caused from stress."

PFEW Chair Steve White said: "To ensure police officers have the right tools and right protection to keep members of the public safe, for some time now we have been working with the National Police Chiefs' Council, the Crown Prosecution Service, and at ministerial level to ensure that the law is fit for purpose when considering police and emergency driving.

"Too often officers have been hung out to dry for just doing their job. There is still more to do, but good progress has been made, and I’ll be discussing this with the Police Minister, Brandon Lewis, in the coming weeks."

Barrister Mark Aldred said that pursuit drives fell squarely into the definition of 'dangerous or careless driving' and it was important all officers made themselves familiar with the law.  "If we are going to ask officers to do this job, we need to make sure they are protected. The courts have made it clear that in assessing whether a drive was dangerous, the officer's skill and training are to be disregarded."

Tim Rogers added it was important to understand what the Federation was asking for.  "I want to make it clear that we are not asking carte blanche for officers to be allowed to drive dangerously. What we want is for training to be recognised - we need to get away from situations where people who are doing their job - protecting the public - with high levels of training are being dragged through years of unnecessary hearings and trials."

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Roads Policing Conference 2017

Trained police drivers