A plan to offer greater legal protection to police drivers when pursuing suspects has been welcomed by the region’s Police and Crime Commissioner.
Jane Kennedy has previously called for changes in the law in order to give officers more protection when chasing criminals on the region’s roads, particularly those on scrambler bikes and motorcycles.
Under current rules, any motorist – including police officers pursuing suspects – who fails to drive in a ‘competent and careful’ manner can be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving.
Yesterday the government launched a consultation on proposals to tackle motorcycle-related crime, which includes new guidelines recognising police pursuit drivers’ higher level of training and offering them greater protection from prosecution. The proposals aim to dispel the ‘myth’ that officers cannot pursue riders who are not wearing helmets.
Jane said: “I warmly welcome these proposals which are long overdue. For far too long, police drivers have had the fear that they themselves could end up in court for pursuing an individual who is driving dangerously. That fear became a reality for one officer who endured months of anxiety while his case was considered and he was eventually exonerated.
“Police pursuit drivers are highly trained and incredibly skilled. They need to have the confidence that they can go after criminals who are putting the safety of other road users and pedestrians in jeopardy, and apprehend them without worrying about the potential repercussions for themselves.
“This legislation is also important in sending out a message to those who think they can cause havoc with scrambler bikes on our streets and get away it. This is not the case and they will be pursued – whether they are wearing a helmet or not.
“I am pleased to see these important issues are finally being addressed but the government needs to act quickly to implement them fully.”
Under the government’s proposals, police drivers would be subject to a separate test requiring them to drive in a way that is necessary and proportionate to the circumstances.
The rules will also make clear that a scrambler or motorcycle rider who does not wear a helmet is responsible for their own decision to drive dangerously.
The consultation is open until 12noon on Monday 13th August 2018 and members of the public are welcome to share their views at https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/police-pursuits