First legal steps taken that could affect police pursuits
UK MP’s have heard the First Reading of a proposed change to the Road Traffic Act that could lead to changes to police pursuit rules.
The Conservative MP Sir Henry Bellingham has presented a Bill, the Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill, that seeks to change current laws that lead to the prosecution of police officers during pursuits of criminal, including thieves riding stolen motorbikes.
The reading in the House of Commons is the first step in a change in legislation that could exempt police offices from the need to always drive with due care and consideration to avoid the possibility of prosecution for Dangerous Driving, under the Road Traffic Act 1988.
In his reading, Sir Henry used an example that will ring true with anyone familiar with the current situation where police officers immediately face investigation and possible prosecution if a suspect is injured during a police pursuit.
As reported in Hasard, Sir Henry said, “It seems that there is a scourge of mopeds being used for crimes, and often moped riders know that if they take their helmet off, they have more chance of getting away. Two months ago in Kent—I am glad that some of my hon. Friends from Kent are here today—a moped was being driven highly erratically. It was actually doing wheelies and going up the wrong side of a dual carriageway. Four police vehicles were involved. The police officers concerned decided to take action and follow the moped. The moped driver had an accident, went flying off and injured himself—not critically, although it was thought he had severe head injuries. The police officer driving the car closest to the incident was suspended and then investigated for grievous bodily harm and dangerous driving. The case is ongoing. In fact, the driver recovered from his head injuries very quickly, and two weeks on was committing further crimes, while the police officer, who was doing his duty, ended up being suspended. I cannot comment further because the case is sub judice.”
Following the reading, that was presented by Sir Henry and supported by fellows MP’s Bob Blackman, Jack Lopresti, Stephen Twigg, Robert Halfon, Steve McCabe, Sir Oliver Heald, Chris Bryant, Sir Roger Gale, Leo Docherty, Peter Aldous and James Cartlidge, it was agreed that there would be a Second Reading on Friday 16 March 2018. The Second Reading is the next step in the formal process of a Bill passing into Law.
The Police Federation, representing police officers involved in pursuits, has called for a change in the law. Tim Rogers, Lead on Pursuits for the Federation said: “We have made great strides forward in recent months and are grateful to Sir Henry for pursuing this in Parliament on our behalf. But whilst we hope this will gain the necessary support to safely progress through Parliament, we cannot assume this will be the case.” This emphasises the need for pressure to be maintained on MPs to see the Bill through Parliament and become law.
Biker & Bike will continue to campaign for bikers to contact their MP’s directly and ask them to support the Bill and see a change in police pursuit rules.