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New police driving legislation to come in this month

From November 30, police driving will be assessed against the standards of a careful and competent colleague as opposed to the standards of a careful and competent driver.

New legislation is set to recognise the training that police drivers undertake and the tactics that are necessary for them to use when responding to emergencies or catching criminals. 

It follows an eight-year campaign led by the Police Federation's (PFEW) police pursuits and driver training lead, Tim Rogers. 

Previously, officers would be assessed by the standards of the careful, competent driver whereas now it will be by those of their careful and competent colleagues who have had the same level of prescribed training. 

It’s a move that Mr Rogers says will give officers better protection under the law as well as recognising their skills and professional training. 

However, the added protection is dependent upon the officer having been trained by a police-employed instructor and their training being in date, as well as having followed training procedures when an incident happened. 

“The vulnerability to prosecution was the big issue,” Mr Rogers told Police Oracle. 

“By acting as per policy and procedure, you still find yourself liable to criminal prosecution.

"Now that the policy and procedure is reflected in legislation, I would expect to see that if you’ve driven as you’ve been trained then there’s no criminal prosecution brought about against you, and of course the internal pursuance of misconduct would also fall away.” 

The regulations will be enshrined in law through The Road Traffic Act 1988, with the onus is on individual officers to make sure they only drive when up-to-date with training. 

Mr Rogers added: “Each force must have an appropriate mechanism by which these nationally agreed and enshrined in law standards are assessed.

"Locally, officers will have a driving standards unit. Nationally, and for matters requiring subject matter expert (SME) evidence, there is the NPCC SME group.

“Members of this group have received training at the West Midlands Police Federation office, delivered jointly by the Federation and the NPCC, and with complete continuing professional development (CPD) each year.

"As agreed by the Federation, the NPCC, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Home Office, they are the only people who can provide the evidence.”

Following the implementation of the legislation, it is likely that driving schools will be licensed in a similar way to firearms units. 

Mr Rogers explained that a slight risk remains to officers, owing to the fact that the new legislation allows you to drive to a point you’ve been trained to but no more.

In certain situations, there won’t be a response “written down on a piece of paper”. 

Mr Rogers said that officers are expected to keep the public safe within reasonable limitations.

He revealed that he put forward an exemption to the new offence which was not supported by government, but given that the Authorised Professional Practice will inform the new standards it provides an opportunity to do so.

He told Police Oracle he will continue to push for an exemption in law. 

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead (NPCC) police driving lead DCC Terry Woods has welcomed the legislative change: “I believe this is an excellent step forward for police drivers.

"Standardisation throughout the UK on police driving courses is essential in providing a minimum standard to all officers and making the roads safer for all.

“I would urge officers to ensure they understand the new legislation and the importance of compliance with the relevant driving refresher requirements.”

The Federation has produced an FAQ document.

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