A 10-Minute Rule Bill will be read in Parliament on Tuesday 19 December 2017 which could lead to legislative change to better protect emergency response drivers.
Far too many emergency response drivers have found themselves accused of driving carelessly or dangerously when they have simply been doing their job. This will be addressed by MP Sir Henry Bellingham's Bill and could lead to the introduction of an exemption for police and other emergency service workers.
Mr Bellingham, who is Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, said: “For some time now I have been very concerned about how a number of highly professional police officers have been hounded and had their lives turned upside down as a result of unfortunate accidents involving vehicles being pursued by the police. In none of these cases was the accident in question caused by the police officers, but rather by the irresponsible driving of the driver being pursued. “Indeed, there have been cases where the police officer behaved professionally, correctly and very much in line with their specific driver training. Nevertheless, officers have been investigated and charged, with neither the CPS nor Courts being able to take into account their far greater level of driver training and expertise.”
PC James Ellerton of Merseyside Police, who intervened to prevent the rider of a stolen motorbike from ‘killing someone’, found himself hauled before the courts.
In 2015 he placed his unmarked car in the path of the bike, intending to stop the rider from re-entering Liverpool city centre where he had already ridden recklessly, on the wrong side of the road with no lights.
The rider was knocked off at low speed and arrested by PC Ellerton. The officer had been doing his job but the IPCC felt he had acted improperly. He was charged with dangerous driving and put on trial. The officer faced losing his job, his driving licence and even five years in prison. Thankfully he was found not guilty, but at the cost of a huge toll on his family and the officer’s mental wellbeing.
He is backing the Bill and will be telling his story to the media next week.
You can watch Sir Henry present the Bill live on Parliament TV after questions and statements on Tuesday 19 December 2017.
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. Therefore, Federations throughout England and Wales have been lobbying their local MPs to support our calls for emergency response drivers to be afforded the legal protection they deserve.
“I have witnessed police officers and their families go through unimaginable turmoil for years, through no fault of their own. The training to which they exercise their duties should be given due recognition – we must better protect those who we all rely on.”
A separate Private Members Bill by MP Chris Bryant to protect emergency service workers from assault is currently progressing through Parliament, having enjoyed cross-party support.
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