Armed and pursuit policing protections for officers being reviewed by Home Office

The Home Office has begun a review into whether there need to be changes to the law to provide “sufficient protections” for police officers using force or undertaking pursuits.

The review will “assess the existing legal frameworks and guidance on practice that underpin police use of force and police driving, and the subsequent framework for investigation of any incidents that may occur.”

The review will:

– consider longstanding demands from frontline police officers and chiefs for investigators to apply the “subjective” criminal law test for self-defence in police misconduct rather than the “objective” civil test.

– consider whether there should be a higher threshold for triggering an investigation by police watchdogs.

– consider whether investigations – which can last years – can be accelerated “including whether more effective working between the IOPC and CPS can reduce timescales of criminal investigations.”

Zoe Wakefield, Chair of Hampshire Police Federation, said: “It is good to hear that the existing legal frameworks are being reviewed, particularly around police driving and the use of force.

“It is absolutely ridiculous that a police officer can find themselves in court for dangerous driving, assault or murder when they have adhered to all their training, followed all guidelines and instructions whilst doing their job.

“I have heard from other forces that officers would rather get assaulted than use force as they are so fearful of being prosecuted. That is crazy and is giving power to the criminals. We already have powers that allow us to use force. The way those powers are being interpreted by some is the issue.

“There will always be an element of subjectivity but surely those who put themselves in dangerous situations to protect the public should be listened to rather than being influenced by media coverage?

“Timeliness of investigations is a huge issue – but I would not want to see an increase of accelerated hearings where officers are dismissed prior to any trial or hearing. These should only be for the most serious cases.”

The Home Office said: “Police officers across England and Wales do an incredibly difficult job, in some instances having to make life or death decisions in a split second to keep us safe.

“It is vital the public and officers have clarity and confidence in the accountability system relating to police use of force and police driving, including the efficacy of investigations.”

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