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Brexit spanner in the works for roads policing legislation


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Road to new legislation is far from smooth for campaigners


The chaos that has engulfed Parliament amid Brexit may hinder the progress of eagerly awaited draft laws which would enhance legal protection for officers who pursue helmetless moped riders.

The Police Federation for England and Wales (PFEW) cautiously welcomed the news last May that the Home Office was drafting legislation to ensure skilled police drivers are “protected”.

PFEW was awaiting the results of the government’s consultation when it received the news there will no longer be time in the parliamentary diary because Brexit-related work must take priority.

Instead, the Home Office hopes the same ends will be achieved through Sir Henry Bellingham’s Emergency Response Drivers private members bill.

It was originally introduced as a ten-minute bill in December 2017 but was shelved after government objections in March.

The bill was due to have its second reading on November 23 but Sir Christopher Chope, who is notorious for blocking private member’s bill on principle, raised an objection.

Sir Christopher invoked the ire of activists earlier this year when he blocked the progress of a bill to make upskirting a separate offence and Finn’s Law, which would increase the penalties for those who injure police animals.

This, however, did not stop him submitting several of his own private members bills last month.

The Emergency Response Drivers Bill second reading has been rescheduled to March.

PFEW Pursuits Lead Tim Rogers, who has been campaigning to change the law for more than seven years, told Police Oracle the government has some concerns the bill will not match the issues covered in the consultation and that it will include ambulance and fire engine drivers, who are not trained to the same standard as police officers.

He said: “If you compare officers to the careful and competent drivers standard the techniques they use are illegal.

“The deal officers get is 'as long nothing goes wrong that’s fine and we won’t do anything about it but when something does happen you’re on your own'.

“Roads policing officers are highly trained professionals who go to work and carry out these manoeuvres every day but that isn’t recognised in law.  

“It’s just stupid.

“Even the IOPC came out and said officers shouldn’t be compared to the careful and competent drivers standard.”

Mr Rogers said Policing Minister Nick Hurd had given himself and PFEW chairman John Apter personal assurances last week he remained committed to the issue and will soon issue a ministerial statement confirming this is the case.

It is still hoped the bill will gain Royal Assent by 2019/2020, he said.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We recognise the difficult job that police drivers do every day to keep road users and the wider public safe.

“That’s why we have worked closely with the Police Federation, other government departments and groups representing road users and those advocating road safety to review the law, guidance, procedures and processes surrounding police pursuits.

“Ministers are expecting soon to be in a position to announce the next steps following the consultation.  This will be subject to final clearance across government.”

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Betrayal by Parliament again.

It’s the will of the people. Give Parliament 2 years to deal with a massive piece of work then other things won’t get done.
It’s like the police can’t be out preventing and detecting crime if they are spending their time dealing with mental health issues and checking on the welfare of clients of Social Services.
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