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Changes to rules for police vehicle pursuits

The government published proposals on Tuesday 22 May on changing the rules on police pursuits, to give police officers who are involved in such pursuits greater legal protection. While change may be helpful in some ways, it will be important to ensure that the police can be held accountable if they put someone’s health or life in danger.

Currently, officers driving a vehicle for police purposes are exempt from some road traffic rules – such as speed limits, traffic signs, signals and markings – in certain circumstances. However, police officers can be prosecuted for careless and dangerous driving offences, where the same tests apply to police officers as to the general public.

The review of the law, guidance and practice surrounding police pursuits was announced in September 2017. This followed reports of the rise in the number of reported offences carried out by individuals on mopeds and scooters.

The proposals have been published here. One suggestion is for a separate test for police drivers which could specifically refer to the standard of a careful and competent police driver, and require that the driving tactics employed by the officer were authorised appropriately and were necessary and proportionate to the circumstances. The review also considers the issue of police officers facing disciplinary investigations in these circumstances.

Following this review, a consultation on these proposals has been opened. The consultation closes on 13 August 2018.

It is important that, in considering changes to the law, the government properly considers the safety of the public. Further, those subject to police pursuits should not be put in unnecessary danger as a result of police actions. Where something does go wrong, it is vital that officers can be properly held to account through disciplinary and criminal proceedings.

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All of our solicitors within the Civil Liberties and Actions against the Police Department have extensive experience in cases against the police.

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