Police pursuit rules set for reform
The BMF has welcomed the launch of a government consultation designed to better protect police chasing suspects riding mopeds and motorbikes.
The Home Office published details of the consultation on reforming the law relating to police pursuits of drivers and riders on 22 May. Interested parties have until 13 August to respond.
Policing Minister Nick Hurd said: “Police officers must have the confidence to pursue suspects where it is safe to do so. Criminals should be in no doubt that they will not get away with a crime by simply driving recklessly.
“Our proposed changes will make sure that skilled police drivers who follow their rigorous training are protected, while ensuring the minority of officers who do cross the line are robustly held to account.”
Under the law as it stands, the legal test for careless and dangerous driving offences is the same as for the police and for the public, putting officers at risk of prosecution if a suspect falls or is in a collision while being chased. The government’s planned reforms would introduce a separate test for police drivers that would include permitting driving tactics “necessary and proportionate to the circumstances”.
Some criminals on motorbikes or mopeds have also been removing helmets, in the belief that police cannot then pursue them. The consultation says this has contributed to an increase in motorcycle-related crime, particularly in London, and that the government wants to make it clear in law that suspects are responsible for their own decision to ride or drive dangerously.
Welcoming the changes, BMF Chairman Jim Freeman said: “We are in favour of the changes. The 'no pursuit if its too dangerous' policy, whereby any rider or passenger could prevent a hot pursuit by simply removing their helmet, while engaged in criminal activity, particularly bike theft, has long been a contentious issue for law-abiding citizens who ride bikes.”
The Police Federation has been campaigning for seven years for reform, following cases where police drivers have faced long investigations and suspensions, even if these do not in the end lead to sanctions.
Tim Rogers, pursuits lead at the federation, said: “It is unacceptable to have officers trained to drive in a way that exposes them to prosecution merely for doing the job the public expect of them.
"Although it is a positive step that the Government have finally agreed that a legislation change is required, they must now act quickly to prevent more officers suffering unnecessary and often mendacious prosecutions.”
Picture credit: Brian Robert Marshall (Creative Commons Licence)