As the days lengthen and the evenings are lighter, I can predict, even in just two years of being a Member of Parliament, I will start getting calls and emails about people causing havoc in parts of the constituency by riding motorbikes, mopeds and quad bikes in the wrong places.
We’re fortunate in this area to have a low level of crime – yes, crime happens, but we have nowhere near the levels seen in some of our neighbouring towns and boroughs. But just one person acting the fool on a quad bike on the High Street, or one hothead showing off on a moped can be a danger.
I’m very pleased, therefore, that the Conservative Home Secretary Sajid Javid is seeking to change the law to ensure that highly trained police drivers can chase suspected criminals on the roads without fearing lengthy investigation and potential prosecution.
Current laws do not recognise the training that police response drivers undertake and the tactics they may have to employ to respond to emergencies and pursue criminals. These drivers know “Roadcraft: The Police Driver’s Handbook” inside out and back to front – it’s said if we all drove to Roadcraft standards, accidents simply would not happen.
But despite this top-notch driving training, police drivers are currently held to the same standards as members of the public and have to rely on the discretion of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to avoid misconduct investigations and criminal prosecution.
Any changes will make it clear that officers should not be held accountable for the driving of a suspected criminal attempting to avoid arrest, providing the pursuit is justified and proportionate.
The move follows a public consultation which saw the overwhelming majority of respondents back the proposals. Home Secretary Sajid Javid said:
“It’s vital police officers feel confident and protected when pursuing suspects on the roads or responding to an emergency. It’s also crucial that we send a clear message that criminals – whether in cars or on mopeds – cannot escape arrest simply by driving recklessly.”
These proposed changes will strike the right balance – giving trained officers the confidence they need to fight crime effectively and ensure our roads are safe.