‘Light on the horizon’ as Home Office announces pursuit legislation review

The legislation, guidance and practice on police pursuits will be reviewed following concerns raised by officers about the emerging threat of moped crime, the Home Office has confirmed.

Sep 25, 2017

The legislation, guidance and practice on police pursuits will be reviewed following concerns raised by officers about the emerging threat of moped crime, the Home Office has confirmed. Announced by Policing Minister Nick Hurd on September 17, the review will look at the law and guidance surrounding pursuits and decide whether current arrangements need to be altered to ensure officers who engage in a pursuit have the right legal protections. In the 12 months to June 2017, the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recorded 16,158 thefts by people using mopeds, up from 5,145 between July 2015 and June 2016. As it stands, any pursuit considered to be unlawful – judged by the standards of a competent driver – can place the officer at risk of prosecution and proceedings for gross misconduct, potentially leading to dismissal. Tim Rogers, pursuits lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), said the review represents a “significant step” in bringing about a necessary change to legislation. “Trained professionals are being judged by the same standards as a member of the public in any normal driving situation with no differentiation in law to recognise the professional training emergency response drivers undertake,” he added. “The recent spike in moped related crime has been cited as a key factor for the review. The Federation has been clear how this is a good example of how exposed officers are with offenders exploiting the vulnerability that exists for officers to be prosecuted under current legislation. “We have been fully engaged with partners including the Home Office, College of Policing and National Roads Policing leads, as well as MPs, to push for the change. “There is light on the horizon and we won’t let up in our efforts to better protect our members in the face of the dangerous role they perform to keep us all safe.” At its annual conference in May, the PFEW made a pledge to propose a change in legislation to protect officers who engage in pursuits. However, the campaign looked as if it lost speed in June as the PFEW wrote a letter advising officers to drive like a “careful and competent non-police driver”. Although the matter had been raised with a number of MPs, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd, then Policing Minister Brandon Lewis and Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot, it had not progressed. Mr Hurd said: “This Government is determined to get ahead of and tackle emerging threats like motorcycle-related crimes, including those involving mopeds and scooters. People must be able to go about their daily lives without fear of harassment or attack and criminals must not think they can get away with a crime by riding or driving in a certain way or on a certain type of vehicle. “Tackling this emerging crime will take a combined effort from Government, law enforcement, industry partners and civil society. However, police have made us aware of the concern among some officers over the legal position when pursuing suspected offenders, including those on mopeds and scooters. “While it is clearly vital that we protect public safety and that officers are accountable for their actions, it is also important that skilled officers have the confidence to protect the public by pursuing offenders where it is safe to do so.” Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability, Sarah Newton, added: “While this summer’s independent Crime Survey for England and Wales showed that traditional crime is falling, it is also clearly changing and recent reports of motorcycle-related offences are undoubtedly concerning. “Having spoken to our partners in policing, industry and civil society groups, it is clear that there is no one quick fix. “That is why it is vital that we work together – industry, law enforcement, Government and civil groups – to understand the various drivers of these crimes and how they can be met head-on.”

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