New laws will protect police drivers
New laws to protect police drivers are to be drafted by the end of the year, it has been revealed.
Police drivers have faced charges of careless and dangerous driving following their actions in pursuits in the past, but campaigners have been asking for the law to be changed for the last seven years to enable them to do their job.
New guidance is to be drafted in December, the Government revealed this week.
Officers are currently governed by legislation that dates back to the 1970s, which is “outdated and offers no protection” to officers, according to Tim Rogers, leading the campaign.
Mr Rogers, lead on police pursuits for the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Trained professionals are being judged by the same standards as the careful and competent driver, as a member of the public in any normal driving situation.
“It is an understatement to say that current exemptions designed to enable modern policing to remain effective (numbers permitting), are outdated… There needs to be some differentiation in law for emergency response drivers.”
Mr Rogers said criminals are taking advantage of the situation as they know “how exposed officers are”. He added: “Some serial offenders exploit this vulnerability by removing their helmets, likely believing officers will be hung out to dry should they pursue and the worst happen – with current legislation, this not beyond the realms of possibility.”
“The situation where informed criminals believe that the greater the risk they take, the less likely police are to apprehend is nonsense. If society wants trained professionals to appropriately and robustly deal with dangerous offenders then the approved tactics should never leave them in danger of prosecution. But the flaw in legislation does just that - our appropriately trained drivers are risking their liberty and livelihood every day.”
Officers who have engaged in pursuits or response drivers have, in the past, been charged with dangerous driving, even if no complaints were made, and no one was injured.
In June 2017, fresh guidance was issued to by the PFEW to forces, reminding drivers to ensure that their driving remains within the law. Yet officers remain vulnerable, the Federation said, until the new legislation is in place.