In a bid to tackle criminals on mopeds, the Home Office plans to provide police officers with more legal protection if involved in a crash.
The new proposal aims to debunk the myth that officers cannot pursue moped drivers who are not wearing helmets.
News of the reforms have been welcomed by the Police Federation who had been calling for changes to be made.
Policing Minister, Nick Hurd stated “Criminals must not think they can get away with a crime by riding or driving in a certain way”.
Officers had voiced concerns that they risk prosecution for careless or dangerous driving if in pursuit of criminals at high speed, particularly criminals on motorcycles and mopeds.
Tim Rogers, the Police Federation’s roads policing lead has urged the government to “act quickly to prevent more officers suffering unnecessary and often mendacious prosecutions”.
Under the current rules, any motorist who fails to drive in a “competent and careful” manner can be prosecuted for careless or dangerous driving and this includes police officers.
It has been argued by the Police Federation that this deters some officers from pursuing suspects as they are worried they will be investigated and charged if they break the speed limit, jump red lights or drive on the wrong side of the road.
The last three years have seen a rise in crimes involving motorbikes and scooters, particularly in London. With crimes now including moped drivers snatching phones and slashing people with knives and weapons prompting an over haul of the law.
The Governments proposal was published as part of the annual Police Federation conference and has suggested rules would be changed to take into account police drivers’ high level of training.
Police would be subject to a separate test where by an officer would be required to drive in a way that is necessary and proportionate to the circumstances.
In 2016-17 there were approximately 10,000 police pursuits and 500,000 blue light responses in England and Wales.
Nick Hurd, further noted that the “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”.
The new rules which would affect forces across England and Wales, would also see that a moped or motorcycle rider who does not wear a helmet is responsible for their own decision to drive dangerously.
“Under current legislation the Police drivers, like other designated vehicle drivers responding to “emergencies”, are allowed to ignore some traffic laws; for example speed limits, passing the wrong side of keep left indications and can treat red traffic lights as give way indications. The Police always have to balance the need to prevent crime or apprehend offenders against risk of harm to the public.
"While the desire to enable effective control over new areas of crime like moped use must be applauded, real concerns have been expressed by commentators about the number of innocent bystanders and drivers injured and killed in collisions with Police vehicles. Sadly it may well not be until a bystander is hurt that we begin to understand what driving in a way that is “reasonable and proportionate to the circumstances” means.”
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