Government fails to support police driver protection Bill, again

For the second time, the Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill has failed to get a second reading to become law, meaning police drivers using new ramming tactics can still face prosecution.

The Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill has for the second time this year failed to make its way through Parliament to become law.

The Bill, proposed by Sir Henry Bellingham, Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, calls for increased exemptions for the emergency services from civil liability or criminal prosecution. Under current law, police drivers can be prosecuted for dangerous driving under the Road Traffic Act when they use tactics that could injure a suspected criminal.

On Friday 23rd November the Bill was meant to have its second reading but the Government and MPs failed to hear the reading in time. The same thing happened in March 2018.

The Police Federation, which has been trying to get the law changed for eight years, is still hopeful that there will be a change. Speaking on Friday, National Chair John Apter said: “Despite today’s setback, the conversations we are having at ministerial level are still positive and they recognise that something has to be done.”

Senior police officers are believed to want a change in the law and London’s Metropolitan Police has recently updated its pursuit policy to allow a new type of highly trained offer, called a Scorpion Driver, to use aggressive stop tactics. The Pursuits Lead for the Police Federation, Tim Rogers, said, “Senior officers in the main fully support and actively encourage the use of driving tactics that clearly are at odds with the law.

“This is all very well but it is not them who will be charged or sent to jail or lose their job – it is our members. The officer carries all the risk. Senior officers need them to take these risks.”

The Police Federation will again meet with Policing Minister Nick Hurd to discuss the issue this week. John Apter is urging ministers to take the issue more seriously: “ I previously wrote to the Minister to express my concern at the apparent lack of gravitas they are giving this important matter, and the reality that our colleagues are at risk on a daily basis for simply doing what they have been trained to do.”

The Bill is expected to be presented again for its second reading in March 2019. In the meantime, police drivers using aggressive tactics to bring dangerous moped riders to a halt will still be liable for prosecution.

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