Plans to provide better protection for police drivers when they are in pursuit and responding to 999 callouts have moved a step closer after it was revealed the public backs changes to the law.
Currently, police drivers are subject to the same careless and dangerous driving legal test as members of the public, meaning officers’ specialist training and experience does not carry weight in mitigation.
The Home Office public consultation revealed there was an ‘overwhelming majority’ of support for that to be reversed in law.
The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) has long campaigned for legislation change.
PFEW Chair John Apter said the potential law change was long overdue. He said: “This is a positive step and something we have long been campaigning for.
“Sadly, it comes too late for many police officers who have been investigated and had their lives turned upside-down, facing lengthy court proceedings for simply doing the job they have been trained to do.
“It is important that when police officers are required to use their training to protect society, they can do so with the confidence that the law is on their side. What now needs to happen is meaningful action – we need the Government to be bold, prioritise this issue, find the Parliamentary time to do so, and fulfil its promise to police officers and the public.”
Home Secretary Sajid Javid said any change in the law would send the right message to criminals. He said: “It’s vital police officers feel confident and protected when pursing suspects on the roads or responding to an emergency.
“It’s also crucial that we send a clear message that criminals – whether in cars or on mopeds – cannot escape arrest simply by driving recklessly. These proposed changes will strike the right balance – giving trained officers the confidence they need to fight crime effectively and ensure our roads are safe.”
The changes will seek to introduce a new legal test so an officer’s driving is compared to that of a competent and careful police driver with the same level of training performing the same role. It will apply to all officers trained to response driver and advance driver level, covering those pursuing criminals and emergency police responders.
Date posted: June 10, 2019