Do Police vehicles need fuel injection?
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Tim Rogers – Pursuits Lead Police Federation of England & Wales
We expect police officers to be there for us in an emergency and to bring criminals to justice. This often requires them to drive in a way that ordinary members of the public would not – to get to the scene of an incident quickly or apprehend suspects. If something goes wrong they can be prosecuted or face lengthy disciplinary proceedings. They can even be held liable for the reckless behaviour of fleeing criminals. Patrol officer PC James Holden from Hampshire was hauled into court for chasing a stolen van being driven by a man with 145 previous convictions. The suspect jumped red lights and drove the wrong way up a dual carriageway before crashing. PC Holden was charged with dangerous driving and endured “12 months of hell” until he was cleared. There are numerous such cases each year. We have so far stopped short of advising our members not to give chase, but we continue to remind them of the risks. After seven years of campaigning by the Federation, the government is consulting on a new driving standard – a ‘careful and competent police driver’ – to offer greater protection to the officers. Nobody should be above the law, but when blue light responders are prosecuted for following their training and doing the job society expects of them, then clearly the balance isn’t right. They already do a difficult job under stressful circumstances and deserve our support.
Neil Worth – Road Safety & Motoring Officer GEM Motoring Assist
Do Police Officers require additional protection in law when doing their jobs? Absolutely. Should they and other emergency services drivers have exemptions to road traffic law in certain circumstances? Again, absolutely. Should they, however, be judged differently to the general public and be held to a different standard than the rest of us? Then the answer is No. Sir Robert Peel said :“… the police are the public and the public are the police…” so it can only be right that police officers are judged in the same way as the rest of us before the law. The proposals in relation to police pursuits do have lots of merit and it makes perfect sense to clarify the existing exemptions for emergency drivers so everyone understands how they can help them, which can only be a good thing. The concern is that the perception will be that by holding them to a different standard to the rest of us the police are somehow going to be above the law. Perhaps, instead of tinkering for political capital, the Government should look seriously at reversing the massive cuts to policing of recent years, not least in police pursuit driver training, and invest in training and equipping officers so they can do the job they’re asked to do.