18 Dec 2017
A Ten Minute Rule Bill to be presented in Parliament on Tuesday 19 December will proposes greater protections for police and other 999 services from prosecution while responding to emergencies
Support is building for a change in law so that emergency response drivers engaged in trained driver tactics will be better protected.
The need and reasons for this is due to be presented in the House of Commons tomorrow in the form of a 10-Minute Rule Bill, led by Conservative MP for North West Norfolk, Sir Henry Bellingham. The ultimate aim is to lead to an exemption in law for police and other emergency service drivers.
The Emergency Response Drivers (Protections) Bill is not designed to enable irresponsible driving, but to apply a degree of common sense and pragmatism so that investigations can be dealt with expeditiously and allow officers to go back to work as quickly as possible. The Police Federation of England and Wales has been canvassing MPs on the issue and it is hoped to receive cross-party support when it is introduced to the House by Mr Bellingham after questions and statements on Tuesday 19 December 2017.
As it stands now, no recognition is given to the standards and driver tactics to which police officers and other emergency response drivers have been trained.
Mr Bellingham 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.”
The draft for the Bill backs the Federation’s view that the existing law is piecemeal and impractical.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 so 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 calling for tougher sentences for those who assault emergency services workers is progressing through Parliament, having enjoyed cross party support.
Police Federation of England and Wales
01372 3520 18/14/16
07843 292912 (out of hours only)