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Mark101

Police Driving / Emergency Responding

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Watched Conference this year and was interested in the discussion on Carless & Dangerous driving for police officers. Lat year a QC gave a lecture on the subject and I thought that is strange, why are the Fed not telling officers……Roll on a few months and now the Fed are giving out advice in what officers should do;

-Officers have a sworn duty and must uphold that duty.

-Officers should drive in a way which is lawful and does not contravene the laws of dangerous or careless driving.

-Officers are advised not to undertake any manoeuvre which may well fall outside the standard of the careful and competent non police driver.

QC Mark Aldred stated that the IPCC have consider 30 officers for Dangerous driving but only a few have been taken to court. Currently a Force is taking an officer for careless driving and for Gross Misconduct as a result, and they could lose their job. In a nutshell, officers have no protection for response driving & pursuits and the government should change the law to protect officers.

Next time you respond to a job, you could be the one that ends up in court………………..Don't break the speed limit!

 

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Seems very much like following "Roadcraft" instruction. From memory, No call is so urgent as to justify being involved in a road accident. That is why the advanced course is so demanding.

You are exempt from many things but you still have to drive with care. If some officers become "Gung Ho" when driving, think of them with a firearm. Doesn't bear thinking about.

Edited by Zulu 22

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22 hours ago, Mark101 said:

Watched Conference this year and was interested in the discussion on Carless & Dangerous driving for police officers. Lat year a QC gave a lecture on the subject and I thought that is strange, why are the Fed not telling officers……Roll on a few months and now the Fed are giving out advice in what officers should do;

-Officers have a sworn duty and must uphold that duty.

-Officers should drive in a way which is lawful and does not contravene the laws of dangerous or careless driving.

-Officers are advised not to undertake any manoeuvre which may well fall outside the standard of the careful and competent non police driver.

QC Mark Aldred stated that the IPCC have consider 30 officers for Dangerous driving but only a few have been taken to court. Currently a Force is taking an officer for careless driving and for Gross Misconduct as a result, and they could lose their job. In a nutshell, officers have no protection for response driving & pursuits and the government should change the law to protect officers.

Next time you respond to a job, you could be the one that ends up in court………………..Don't break the speed limit!

 

I'm not quite sure what the issue is here, this being something the PFEW raised several years ago.

Providing officers understand the road traffic act and drive according to their training, level of authority, prevailing road/traffic conditions and, most importantly, don't allow the red mist to descend, why is this a problem?

The job will only hang you out to dry, quite rightly, if you disregard everything a good driving school instructor has taught.

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I think you've all missed the point. Most response driving, even if you drive as taught, is likely to be deemed dangerous driving. Put it this way, if you saw a MoP drive the same as you did on your last response run would you deem it 'dangerous driving'? If the answer is yes then you did too.

well worth reading:

http://sussexpolfed.org/members/pursuits1.pdf

Edited by Sectioned Detection
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I've not missed the point at all. The case you cite is the one the PFEW raised several years ago.

The fact remains the Courts are not log jammed with police drivers facing prosecution for serious driving offences, nor are Forces falling over themselves to ban pursuits. If the case had been taken to the extreme then TPAC (in which I have previously qualified), perhaps the most inherently dangerous set of police tactics you can employ without focusing the crosshairs of a firearm at someone's forehead, would never see the light of day.

As I say, I cannot see the issue. If there was one do you not think the IPCC would set up camp outside every remaining RPU garage in the country just waiting for trade?

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I think you need to listen to QC Mark Aldred speech at Conference 2016 where he explained in detail that the IPCC considered 30 officers for prosecution. Only a handful were charged to court and most were acquitted by the judge, as the judge was sympathetic towards their case. All enquiries started by the IPCC.

His point, is that why are officers being put through the court system, for over 12 months and worrying if they are going to be found guilty for doing their job. Previously CC's never progressed cases & CPS stated that it was not in the public interest. Now the IPCC are telling Forces to take action.

Officers have the basic exemptions but what he is saying is that the IPCC are now looking at Careless & Dangerous driving for these minor offences. Two years ago a judge stated that officers training & skills cannot be taken into account and be brought up in court. So the standard of driving for police officers has changed, through the law, and it is only a matter of time before an officer loses their job 'For only doing their job'. Officers standard of driving will be exactly the same as a member of the public and there is nothing in law to exempt them, for being police officers, ambulance drivers, firemen etc………that is what has changed and the Fed want people to be aware of that.

There are officers charged to court for Careless & Dangerous driving and in one case no one was injured.

The reason why the courts are not full with officers, is that the IPCC only really get involved in accidents or where members of the public complain to them and there are not many police accidents on a daily basis. If IPCC reviewed the CCTV of every police response/pursuit then things would be a lot different.

 

Edited by Mark101

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"Police officers should seek legal advice before making statements"

Police officers involved in pursuits and response should seek legal advice before making statements about incidents, even if told they are only being interviewed as a witness.

That was the advice from QC Mark Aldred at the Police Federation of England and Wales Roads Policing Conference, as he explained the lack of legislation around exemptions for police drivers.

“For police officers who enter into pursuits, the reality is, if the political will is there, they could be prosecuted for dangerous driving offences,” he said. Pursuits fall squarely into the definition of “dangerous driving” he said, and that while it might seem surprising, there was “no legislation that gives officers an exemption from prosecution”.

This differs to police use of force, where legislation requires that it is allowed if ‘reasonable’ in the circumstances.

Mr Aldred is a prominent lawyer who successfully defended PC James Holden in a high profile Dangerous Driving case in 2012. PC Holden was a Hampshire Police officer who was accused by the Crown Prosecution Service of putting innocent people at risk during a pursuit through Portsmouth.

“In my experience, in 95 per cent of cases [which have reached my desk] the words that have come out of the officer’s mouth have been used against them,” added Mr Aldred at the conference.

“I get told by the officer that they ‘were only doing their job, they can’t seriously be being prosecuted’ and then I see the lights go out in their eyes as I tell them the law doesn’t protect them.”

He said reform needed to happen: “If we are going to ask police officers to do a job – we should make sure the law is there to allow them to do that job. Officers who drive or carry firearms do so voluntarily, for jobs that do carry serious risks. I wonder, if they were fully aware of the risks, would they continue?”

The Police Federation of England and Wales said it is working with the National Police Chief’s Council to develop a draft legislation change on this issue.

 

https://www.metfed.org.uk/news?id=6574

--------------------------------------------------

Barrister Mark Aldred agreed that a clear-cut line can not be drawn between response and pursuit, as response drivers may be called to attend incidents such as bombings or mass shootings where it is imperative they arrive quickly.

Under current guidance, response drivers are not permitted to go through red lights in such a way that causes any risk, meaning they have to frequently stop to avoid prosecution and potentially risking more lives in the process.

Mr Aldred therefore called for the Government to consider legislating to allow an element of proportionality and provide driving safeguards for officers.

He also criticised the system that allows officers found responsible for causing death or serious injury when in pursuit to be tried under the same standards of dangerous driving as members of the public. 

He said: “You are horrendously exposed following a pursuit. There is a system of checks and balances and they apply to police officers just as much as everybody else, but they don’t seem to be balanced for police officers.”

Mr Rogers is due to meet Shadow Policing Minister Jack Dromey next week to persuade him to support a change in the law. 

Meanwhile, Mr Aldred claimed the best defence for officers involved in a pursuit that results in death or serious injury is to refuse to make a statement, and tell investigators that the data they need will be provided by the vehicles’ recording equipment.

He said the intention behind this suggestion is to avoid the common situation of an officer being initially told they are being treated as a witness, only for them later to be treated as a suspect.

Mr Aldred said: “Just because you are told you are a witness does not mean you will always be one.

“If an officer gives an account, that may come back to bite him. There is nothing you will be able to say that will make it better. Being told you are a witness makes an officer more vulnerable because a witness has no safeguards.”

By relying solely on electronic evidence for a statement, it can be proven whether or not the officer was at fault, so they will be treated as a suspect from the beginning and can immediately ask for the prosecutor’s evidence against them to be disclosed. 

He also called on police to ensure this issue is resolved.

Mr Aldred told the conference: “It’s in your hands to raise the profile of this issue. 
We have to push for change. 

“We have already drafted a suggestion as to how an exemption might look that will give officers everywhere protection that they hitherto haven’t got.

“You should have a defence so what you do on a daily basis to protect and help others actually has some basis in law.”

http://www.policeprofessional.com/news.aspx?id=26208

Edited by Techie1

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8 hours ago, billysboots said:

I've not missed the point at all. The case you cite is the one the PFEW raised several years ago.

The fact remains the Courts are not log jammed with police drivers facing prosecution for serious driving offences, nor are Forces falling over themselves to ban pursuits. If the case had been taken to the extreme then TPAC (in which I have previously qualified), perhaps the most inherently dangerous set of police tactics you can employ without focusing the crosshairs of a firearm at someone's forehead, would never see the light of day.

As I say, I cannot see the issue. If there was one do you not think the IPCC would set up camp outside every remaining RPU garage in the country just waiting for trade?

Well you feel free to rely on the goodwill of the IPCC to cover your back and I'll stick with refusing to drive on response runs.

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20 minutes ago, Sectioned Detection said:

Well you feel free to rely on the goodwill of the IPCC to cover your back and I'll stick with refusing to drive on response runs.

This type of comment infuriates me. On the contrary the reason we attend a Police Advanced Driving course is to hone our skill to a level where we are anticipating the road ahead and what other drivers might do.  We are trained because there is need when these skills have to be used. If I had the attitude of refusing to drive on response then I would refuse to accept my pay as I would not be doing my job as expected.

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Regardless of what you all think of the IPCC, whilst they can demand what they like from Forces, they do not make charging decisions and I maintain this is a lot of fuss about nothing. So the IPCC "considered" 30 officers for Court? From how many tens of thousands of response drives and pursuits? The CPS, quite often not our allies in such matters, are hardly bursting a gut to prosecute police drivers, are they? That pretty much tells you all you should need to know. The public interest test to prosecute still has to be met and I would suggest the vast majority of cases won't get over that hurdle.

There genuinely are bigger things to worry about. Any police driver who is successfully prosecuted for careless/dangerous driving probably deserves what they get if the statistics you quote are a true reflection.

 

Edited by billysboots

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It is not from tens of thousands of response drives and pursuits…………….it is from cases referred to the IPCC by Forces. So the number referred to them will be very low, 

There is a lot of work going into this for it to be a storm in a teacup:

http://www.polfed.org/campaigning/trained_drivers.aspx

Conference 2016 - Wednesday PM 1 /2 ………………09:00hrs QC speaking

There genuinely are bigger things to worry about. Any police driver who is successfully prosecuted for careless/dangerous driving probably deserves what they get if the statistics you quote are a true reflection.

……………. what a sad response.

Edited by Mark101

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What's sad about it?

You claim the IPCC is making a concerted effort to encourage Forces to bring cases against officers for driving offences and yet, despite those endeavours, very little has changed. If what you claim is accurate, therefore, those who ARE prosecuted must have driven appallingly. So they absolutely deserve to be before the Courts.

A lot of work may have gone into this, but you paint this as a new development. It's not. It was first raised well over two years ago when I still worked in roads policing, when bobbies were worried to death by it. 

In all the time since, what change in approach has there been from Forces which, owing to years of grief from politicians and media, are now ridiculously risk averse? Absolutely none.

You quite clearly missed my point. All of this still requires the CPS to view it as being in the public interest to prosecute police drivers who have driven according to their training and just done their job. That simply isn't going to happen. Nobody wants police officers driving like Miss Daisy when there is a genuine need for a response. Which is why the CPS, in my view, will only continue to go after genuine cases, which they absolutely should.

Edited by billysboots

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I understand what you are saying and hoping that you are right. I followed this topic in Conference in 2016 & this year, so it is not new. What is relative new is there is now a team of people trying to get the law changed to make it better for officers and they want the support from everyone. 

Fed Letter:

Police officers have a sworn duty to uphold the law and they must comply with that duty. They must also act in a way which is lawful.

Legal advice has recently highlighted that police response and pursuit drives are, in most circumstances, highly likely to fall within the definitions of careless and or dangerous driving.

There are no exemptions to the offences of careless or dangerous driving to permit emergency driving.

This matter has been considered by Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, NPCC lead for Roads Policing.  He accepts that – at least as far as pursuits are concerned, drives are highly likely to fall outside the law as it is currently drafted.

The IPCC has recently directed a force to bring proceedings against an officer for Gross Misconduct for careless driving. Gross Misconduct is conduct that would justify dismissal.

A typical response or pursuit drive is likely to involve the officer contravening traffic signs and or speed limits. A course of driving involving contravention of traffic signs and speed limits is very likely to fall within the definition of careless or dangerous driving. Officers are required by law to drive to the standard of the careful and competent driver. Not the careful and competent police driver, the careful and competent (non-police) driver. This is the standard police drivers will be held to. There are no legal exemptions from the offences of careless or dangerous driving.  Any such drives are therefore likely to be unlawful, placing the driver at risk of prosecution and proceedings for gross misconduct. 

It is hoped that this correspondence will reduce police related accidents and significantly reduce proceeding against officers for motoring offences and or Gross Misconduct hearing.

Proposed Drafting of Regs:

1.     Proposed Exemption

“When a vehicle is being used for fire brigade, ambulance, bomb or explosive disposal, national blood service, rescue or police purposes, or for a purpose connected with the National Crime Agency the driver may depart from the standard of the careful and competent driver (or by his driving, cause another to do so) if and only if;  

a) driving the vehicle in accordance with road traffic regulations would be likely to hinder the use of that vehicle for the purpose for which it is being used and; 

B) any such departure is a proportionate response to the circumstances as the responder reasonably believed them to be and;

c) the driver has undergone or is engaged in, specialist driver training in accordance with S19 of the RSA 2006. 

2.     Such an exemption would permit a proportion of appropriately trained drivers to make the kind of decision they are trained to make, balancing the risk of not proceeding against the risk created by the drive. This is no different a decision than that faced by an officer in deciding whether to use force. Ultimately, a jury could be the final arbiter of where the balance lay. Such a test would focus the mind of the decision maker towards the real decision, whether the risks created by responding/pursuing were a necessary and proportionate response to the incident, taking into account the risks associated with not responding at all. 

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Here is an interesting case:

  A recent High Court case (Hatzola: DPP v Issler 2014) decided that first responder vehicles providing medical aid, do not fall within the definition of “ambulance” and therefore cannot avail themselves of  the limited exemptions that ambulances have to break speed limits and contravene traffic signs. In fact they cannot legally, use blues and two tone horns. That means first responder Skoda Octavia type vehicles and motor cycles are not permitted to avail themselves of the ambulance exemptions.  The court observed that this was undesirable and indicated that reform was required. In the interim it hoped that the DPP would not prosecute such cases. 

…………….they are driving hoping no officers or CPS take any action, that can't be right in this day in age.

 

http://www.lancashirepolfed.org.uk/pursuit2.pdf……….this was started by Traffic Sgt & Head of training:rolleyes:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-north-east-orkney-shetland-27555047……ex Sgt giving evidence

Edited by Mark101

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Theres nothing particularly new in this news.

I've been bleating on for years about the risks of prosecution for police drivers, particularly when responding or in pursuits. Cops seem to think they have immunity as soon as they put their blue lights on. I recognised the risks to officers years ago, but Ive been regularly criticised by colleagues for refusing to speed when responding, and for not 'keeping up' in pursuits. Ive even been told off by my Sgts for responding too slowly to incidents, by not speeding. Ive always shrugged them off, knowing I'm at risk of prosecution if I do. Ive never felt protected when behind the wheel of a police car. I don't think I've ever arrived at an incident and thought 'thank God I got here as fast as I could'.

It would seem the IPCC have finally caught up with my realistic fears.

The first priority in policing is to look after yourself, as nobody else is going to.

Edited by Yorkshire

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