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Officers reminded of legal obligations in pursuits and response drives

Police officers responding to emergency calls are being warned they could be prosecuted for driving offences just like any other motorist.

Tim Rogers, the national Federation lead on police pursuits, has written to all Federation members across England and Wales to remind them that "there are no legal exemptions from the offences of careless or dangerous driving" for officers responding to calls for help from the public.

"Current legislation means that regardless of their training and experience, officers are judged by the standards of the "careful and competent driver" who is unlikely to go through a red light, cross the wrong side of bollards and so on," says Tim.

"This means those engaging in a response or pursuit are vulnerable to a prosecution charge of dangerous or careless driving."

The letter, which has been sent to more than 120,000 Federation members, outlines how legal advice has highlighted that "police response and pursuit drives are, in most circumstances, highly likely to fall within the definitions of careless and or dangerous driving".

Officers are being advised that they should:

  • drive in a way which is lawful and does not contravene the laws of dangerous or careless driving
  • not undertake any manoeuvre which may well fall outside the standard of the careful and competent non-police driver.

The Federation has been campaigning for a change in the law for the past seven years. West Mercia's Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, who is roads policing lead at the National Police Chiefs' Council, signalled at the Federation's national conference in May that he would work closely with the Federation on the issue.

The PFEW letter