Police afraid car chases will land them in court are avoiding high-speed pursuit of criminals

  • Follows prosecution of a PC for dangerous driving even though no complaint was made

Police officers chasing speeding criminals are too frightened to put their foot down for fear of being prosecuted for dangerous driving.

Yesterday the Police Federation said hundreds of officers around the country were worried about undertaking high speed pursuits due to the risk of them being hauled before the courts.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, QC, is now carrying out an urgent review after the Federation warned that officers could refuse to pursue fugitives, burglars, carjackers and other dangerous offenders if the law on dangerous driving is not changed to provide exemptions for 999 emergencies.
Police officers chasing speeding criminals are too frightened to put their foot down for fear of being prosecuted for dangerous driving.

Police officers chasing speeding criminals are too frightened to put their foot down for fear of being prosecuted for dangerous driving

The extraordinary move comes after the prosecution of a police patrol officer for dangerous driving even though no complaint was made about his driving and no members of the public were injured.

PC James Holden was following a serial burglar who raced through several red lights and went the wrong way along a section of dual carriageway before his stolen van crashed through a railway barrier in Cosham, Hampshire.

No one was injured and the officer from Hampshire Constabulary stopped the pursuit before he reached the railway barrier.

The thief who ran from the scene was caught by another patrol on the other side of the railway.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, QC, is now carrying out an urgent review

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer, QC, is now carrying out an urgent review

Despite no complaints being made, senior officers, who routinely review police pursuits, deemed that the chase had gone on too long and had put lives and properties at risk.

An independent review by another force expert described PC Holden’s driving as ‘admirable’, ‘not careless, reckless or dangerous’ and ‘typical of an urban pursuit’.

However Hampshire Police referred the case to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) who decided to prosecute the officer for dangerous driving.

After just two hours of deliberations, a jury cleared the constable of any wrongdoing at Guildford Crown Court in February this year.

But the landmark case has raised fears that dozens of other police patrol officers could face prosecution simply for trying to catch a fleeing criminal.

More than a hundred rank and file officers have contacted the Police Federation to say they are worried about putting their foot down when chasing an offender.

There are also fears that the case could deter surveillance teams from tailing terrorist suspects in the run-up to the Olympics if the officers feel that they are vulnerable to prosecution.

Paramedics and firefighters have also expressed concerns about the case.

Mr Starmer is now carrying out a review of CPS guidance after the case was raised Sir Hugh Orde, head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO).

The national ACPO lead on police driving Assistant Chief Constable Andy Holt has also written to all chief constables regarding a review of the legislation.

Yesterday Chairman of the Hampshire Police Federation John Apter said: ‘In some cases police officers are saying I do not want to go through what PC Holden went through just for doing my job.

‘I am not going to put my foot down.’ He went on: ‘Some officers have decided that the risk to them is not worth it. I understand that position.

‘You are trained to do a job and if you do it you are worried about gripping a rail in a dock.’

Mr Apter stressed that the federation was not calling for an total exemption on prosecution for police officers, but that it was necessary to provide allowances for 999 emergencies.

He said: ‘I think that the reality is if nothing is done, police officers will lose faith in the system.

‘If police officers lose faith and do not feel they have any support, they will minimise the risks to themselves.

‘I can see officers refusing to pursue which would be very sad for the police and for the public- it would be Christmas for criminals.’

Currently members of the emergency services have no special exemption from prosecution when responding to 999 calls, they owe the same duty of care as a member of the public.

But yesterday Mr Starmer said: ‘A number of concerns have been raised with me about the case of PC Holden.

‘I do not propose to comment on the case itself, but I have decided that CPS policy guidance in relation to dangerous driving should be reviewed, including the way in which it is applied to members of the emergency services.

‘The CPS will consult with the police before finalising the revised policy guidance.’

Police afraid car chases will land them in court are avoiding high-speed pursuit of criminals

See also: End of the road for police pursuits?

And: Hampshire Police Federation criticises PC pursuit case

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Privatisation not dead in the water then…?

Two police chiefs warn of further cuts

Forces set out next stages of £1.5bn private partnership scheme which they say is necessary in face of reduced funding

Chris Sims

Chris Sims, the West Midlands chief constable, with David Cameron last August.

Two chief constables have warned that the next round of police spending cuts could be deeper than the 20% reductions currently faced by forces in England and Wales.

The most senior officers of the West Midlands and Surrey forces outlined the next stages of their joint £1.5bn business partnering programme, which will give the private sector its largest ever role in policing.

Both chief constables said they were not engaged in privatising core policing functions. The West Midlands police plans included privately owned city centre police bases with “virtual receptions” and private “prisoner removal units”.

Surrey’s chief constable, Lynne Owens, told her police authority that the savings from the programme were needed because “it is clear that the financial situation for forces … is unlikely to improve. Indeed, early indications are that cuts in the next comprehensive spending review could be even more significant.

“My absolute priority must be to protect our frontline policing, undertaken by Surrey police and staff with the support of partners, and I need to reflect on every opportunity that enables me to do that.”

Chris Sims, the West Midlands chief constable, warned his police authority that the private partnership programme was needed as part of a “major transformation” in the way his force works, to deliver the probable “further public spending reductions” in the next comprehensive spending review.

The 20% cut in Whitehall police grants to forces in England and Wales applies to the Treasury’s current comprehensive spending review period, which covers four years until 2014. The outcome of the next round of public spending cuts is expected to be announced next autumn.

The two forces are to agree a shortlist of suitable bidders for the contract on Friday. In the face of widespread criticism that the plan risks crossing the line into the privatisation of core police services, both forces have decided to slow the timetable to allow more public consultation over the summer.

The exercise will test, among other things, the public appetite for greater private-sector involvement in policing.

The inclusion of patrolling and criminal investigation services in the original contract specification led to suggestions the two forces were planning to privatise policing on an unprecedented scale. Surrey police have gone so far as to say that they regard the “reputation impact of continued media interest incorrectly referring to the programme as ‘police privatisation’” as a formal risk. “This has been placed on the force risk register and a series of control measures have been put in place,” says the official police authority report.

Sims challenged the privatisation claim. “We are the experts at policing. Policing will not be privatised and is not for sale,” he said. Officers would continue to respond to calls, patrol the streets and investigate crimes.

“We recognise there are many areas where we are not the experts … We have many functions that help our organisation run that are not unique to policing … A private partner could continue to work alongside us for a number of years providing services, running support functions and adding their creativity or technology to help us improve core policing,” Sims said.

The West Midlands force says it does not want specify in detail what is involved, but instead offers five different case studies, most of them involving the use of new technology. One scenario involves a travelling football fan who after attending a match at Wolves’s Molineux stadium drops into a privately owned city centre police base to ask about becoming a special constable.

“Mark [the fictitious football fan] is instantly at ease and impressed by the accessible, open and vibrant environment. To his surprise the location is a shared venture in partnership and not owned by the police. Mark is even more impressed by the options available to interact and explore his query to get the answers required. Using an informative virtual reception area with access to face-to-face advice if appropriate, Mark is able to obtain the information needed to progress his application.”

In a second scenario a private “prisoner removal unit” is sent to pick up a suspect who has been arrested by a neighbourhood patrol officer, so that he no longer has to go back to the station.

Labour’s policing spokesman, David Hanson, said it was clear that fear of further government cuts was pushing the police to consider private contracts that crossed the line into core public policing. “We already know that 16,000 officers will be lost as a result of current cuts. Now it is clear that senior police officers believe further substantial cuts are on the horizon and that they are pursuing private contracts for large sections of policing as a result,” he said.

“Public private partnerships can play a really important role, especially on new technology and new ways of working. However, there have to be safeguards. And core public policing should not be contracted out in the interests of justice and public confidence,” he said.

A Home Office spokesman said: “It is too early to predict what the next spending review will hold for the police, but the government will always ensure forces have the resources required to carry out their vital role.”

See: Police forces put £1.5bn privatisation plan on hold

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Theresa May denies conflict of interest in Lincolnshire Police deal

Theresa May Home Secretary Theresa May has rejected an accusation of a conflict of interest in Lincolnshire Police’s decision to award a £200m contract to G4S.

The home secretary said Mr Winsor was “entirely independent”

At the Police Federation conference, Mrs May was asked about Tom Winsor, a partner of a law firm which advised the security company on the deal.

In 2010, Mr Winsor was appointed by the government to author an independent report on police reform.

Mrs May told the conference there was no overlap between Mr Winsor’s roles.

In February, Lincolnshire Police agreed a deal to pay G4S £200m over 10 years to deliver a range of services, including human resources, finance and IT.

Mr Winsor, whose review proposed changes in how the police are paid, is a partner at White and Case but the firm said he played no part in its work advising G4S.

Before joining the firm Mr Winsor spent five years as a rail regulator.

‘Vested interest’

The home secretary was asked about his appointment by delegate Sarah Adams at the conference in Bournemouth.

Ms Adams said: “When you appointed Tom Winsor to carry out your independent review of policy, did you know that the law firm Tom Winsor is part of, which is White and Case, was negotiating the multi-million groundbreaking deal for G4S with Lincolnshire Police?

“How can it be fair and independent if there’s a vested interest?”

Mrs May said: “Tom Winsor did his review entirely independently. He did not do that review as part of the firm – he did it as an individual.

“You might not like all the answers that came out of the Winsor Review but there is a process whereby the federation’s voice will be heard in response to these proposals.”

‘No contact’

Barry Young, chairman of Lincolnshire Police Authority, agreed there had been no conflict of interest.

He said: “My understanding is the work he’s done for the government in relation to his report on pay and conditions was as Tom Winsor and not the firm White and Case. I see no conflict of interest whatsoever.”

A spokesperson for White and Case said: “The firm rejects any suggestion of a conflict of interest between Tom Winsor’s independent police pay review and any of the firm’s clients.

“The police pay review was undertaken by Mr Winsor in his personal capacity and who was appointed, in such capacity as an impartial reviewer, by the home secretary.”

A spokesperson for G4S said: “There has been absolutely no conflict of interest: Mr Winsor has not been involved in any capacity with the legal team which advised us on our contract with Lincolnshire Police.

“Furthermore no member of the G4S policing team has even had contact with Mr Winsor.”

Theresa May denies conflict of interest in Lincolnshire Police deal

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The Sour Taste Of Pensions

As sweeteners go it was a pretty sour one.

Home Secretary Theresa May attempted to appease the lion’s den of the the Police Federation of England and Wales conference by saying officers with less than 10 years to serve will not have their pensions touched by this government.

If you are over 45 you are safe, she added in her keynote speech.

Did she want a round of applause? Was this a calculated move to please an angry audience?

Most delegates at the conference in Bournemouth probably fit into one if not both of those two categories – so maybe she was trying to stop them giving her a hard time.

It didn’t work.

What it has done is immediately divide the service. Those that will have, and have it soon, and those that will have to wait – and work – a lot longer to have it.

There are now thousands of officers in England and Wales who know their police pensions will be changed. The goal posts will be moved. And they will have to work until 60 to get a full pension.

Understandably they are furious. Those who joined the job at any point from 1992 feel like the contract they signed has been changed.

While police officers are peeved about the government attacks on their pay, it is their future pensions that seem to most concern them.

Increase contributions or tax their lump some payouts and they will fight tooth and nail against it.

Unlike their pay, police officers have no power of negotiation with the government over what happens to their pensions. The Home Office can do what it wants after consultation with relevant stake holders.

So if they want to make police officers increase their contributions they will. And they have.

If they want to change the pensions “deal” then they will. And they are planning to.

This week’s conference heard John Giblin, chairman of the federation’s Sergeants’ Central Committee state: “Our pensions are a fair reward for a job well done after a lifetime of public service. We earn every penny of that pension.”

But this week we found out that many tens of thousands of the country’s cops are going to have to work longer to earn that pension and it does not seem there is much they can do about it.

That will leave a very bad taste in the mouth.

The Sour Taste Of Pensions

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Police officer reprimanded for tweeting he had arrested offenders who battered 93-year-old woman

A police officer has been reprimanded after tweeting that he had “arrested the offenders” who battered a 93-year-old woman, and that they were “guilty by suspicion”.

Police officer reprimanded for tweeting he had arrested offenders who battered 93-year-old woman

Pc Hanif Sanghar’s tweets have been removed

Pc Hanif Sanghar even alluded to the fact the arrests were going to be made, telling his 2,700 followers that he was “due to be up very early” yesterday morning.

At 5.06am, just over an hour before a 56-year-old woman and a 28-year-old man were arrested on suspicion of assault, he tweeted to a colleague that he was “on an operation”.

Emma Winnall was left with a severed finger, a broken arm and wrist after the attack in her ground-floor flat in Moseley, Birmingham, on May 1.

Police said the arrested woman was not Miss Winnall’s daughter Joyce Blencoe, who is also 56.

Chief Insp Sally Seeley, from West Midlands Police, said: “The man and woman arrested in connection with the attack on Emma Winnall are suspects. They are innocent until proven guilty.”

She said in Pc Sanghar’s keenness to update the public “he used terminology which was wholly inappropriate”.
She added: “The officer has been advised and the tweets removed.”

Police officer reprimanded for tweeting he had arrested offenders who battered 93-year-old woman

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Officer Awarded Damages For ‘Wrong Boots’ Accident

A police force has agreed to pay damages to a serving officer of £10,000 after the appeal court ruled that he had been supplied with unsuitable riding boots on the day he had a motorbike crash.

PC Robert Blair, a Sussex Police officer, broke his leg in May 2009 during an off-road training exercise.

He sued the force claiming that he should have been given motocross boots before the ride instead of classic clubman tourer boots, also known as Alt-berg boots.

The motocross boots would have helped prevent the injury, the ruling accepted, after an orthopaedic surgeon said they provided “enhanced protection”.

“It was possible to prevent significant injury to trainees by proving them with stronger boots than the Alt-berg boots and the chief constable is therefore liable.”

PC Blair’s case had initially failed at County Court level but the Court of Appeal reversed the decision on Tuesday (May 15)– accepting his argument that the boots were contrary to the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992.

Sussex Police says it is now reviewing its policy over the PPE it provides its officers.

A statement said: “Sussex Police respects the decision of the court.

“We will be reviewing our policy regarding equipment issued to officers to see if any changes need making.”

The ruling said the Chief Constable of Sussex Police, Martin Richards, was liable.

Lord Justice Longmore concluded: “It was possible to prevent significant injury to trainees by proving them with stronger boots than the Alt-berg boots and the chief constable is therefore liable.

“I emphasise that this is not to say that the chief constable was in any way negligent at common law.”

PC Blair, a trainee at the time, had successfully negotiated the first part of the track during the advanced motorcycle course.

But the second was heavily rutted, the court ruling said, and the ruts were full of water. While trying to change gear he lost control and the motorbike tilted.

PC Blair then lost control and fell over with the motorbike on top of his lower leg – causing him to sustain the injury. He broke his ankle and his tibia.

Police motorcyclist is handed £10,000 after suing his force following training crash.

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Chertsey Traffic Centre in its death throes.

Two more sad photos of a once thriving and productive police traffic centre.

Looks a bit mothballed to me….goodness knows how many thousands the boarding up cost.  Estimate to board up the closed  Godalming police station is in the ten of thousands of pounds I am reliably informed… Teeth

See also: This will make any former traffic officer weep…..

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Predictably the Mail turns on the Federation.

The police boo-boys who cost us £6m a year: How nearly 200 officers are working full-time for ‘union’

Nearly 200 officers are working full time for the police ‘union’ instead of protecting the public.

Freedom of Information requests show at least 176 up to the rank of inspector are carrying out duties only for the Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers.

The figures – revealed just two days after delegates heckled Theresa May over police budget cuts – show the officers are costing the taxpayer an estimated £5.8million a year.
Hostile reception: Protesters goad Home Secretary Theresa May during her speech at the Police Federation annual conference at the Bournemouth International Centre this week

Hostile reception: Protesters jeer at Home Secretary Theresa May during her speech at the Police Federation annual conference at the Bournemouth International Centre this week

Last night, MPs criticised the practice of ‘subsidising’ lobbying activities using the public purse.

Tory MP Dominic Raab said: ‘The hard-pressed taxpayer will  be gob-smacked that millions of pounds of their money is being squandered subsidising the  activities of the histrionic Police Federation, rather than mitigating pressure on local force budgets.

‘When they see its chairman, Paul McKeever, stage-managing the ritual annual attempt to  humiliate the Home Secretary for her common-sense proposals, many will feel that their money should have instead been spent on front-line policing.’ The figures, which were provided by 42 forces  in England and Wales, show huge differences between the number  of federation representatives  they employ.

While Derbyshire has six delegates, Cheshire and Leicestershire Police have three.

In London, there are 19 full-time federation officers serving the Metropolitan force.

At the same time, four forces  have ten or more officers working 40 hours a week on federation activities. Devon and Cornwall has ten, as do police in Manchester and West Midlands.
Heckled: Theresa May speaks at the conference

Heckled: Theresa May speaks at the conference

In total, there are more officers working for the federation than  Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Northamptonshire or Surrey  police forces expect to lose in the next few years.

Blair Gibbs, head of crime and justice at the Policy Exchange think-tank, said: ‘Police are  entitled to representation but many hard-working frontline  officers will be surprised that their subscriptions are funding so many full-time federation staff.

‘When budgets are so tight, the public deserve as many warranted officers on the front line as possible.’

But Simon Reed, the Police  Federation’s vice-chairman, said: ‘The Police Federation is a staff association for 134,000 police  officers set up by Parliament. We represent police officers during grievances and welfare issues and, in the absence of industrial rights, act as the voice of officers.

‘Federation representatives  deal with all modern employment issues at a local level and are able to assist forces to deal with grievances and problems before they become legalistic and expensive.’

On Wednesday chairman Mr McKeever told the federation’s annual conference in Bournemouth that cuts to police funding were ‘putting public safety at risk’.

He warned they would inevitably lead to higher crime levels, and claimed the Home Secretary was ‘on the precipice of destroying’ the police service. However, defending cuts to pay and pensions, Mrs May faced down furious rank-and-file officers, telling them they were not being ‘picked on’.

She pointed to cuts across the public sector, saying that even after pay reform, police in England and Wales would remain the best paid of all the emergency services.

She faced shouts of ‘disgrace’ and ‘resign’ from angry officers as she insisted cuts were necessary for the good of the country.

‘Let’s stop pretending the police are being picked on,’ she added. ‘Every part of the public sector is having to take its share of pain.’

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Police forces put £1.5bn privatisation plan on hold

The Independent this morning:

The proposal was being discussed at a time when forces face 20 per cent spending cuts

The biggest-ever police privatisation programme ran into difficulties yesterday when two forces at the centre of the £1.5bn scheme delayed the project in the face of stiff opposition.

The private sector had been given carte blanche to come up with ways to “transform” two forces, under a lucrative contract that could have seen elements of crime investigation, detaining suspects and intelligence work handed over to security firms.

But chief constables accepted yesterday that they failed to sell the plan. The bidding process, expected to cost £4.5m, will be delayed until after the Olympic Games and further public consultation. It follows protests from officers and unions, who warned that the move would downgrade the role of the police and give more power to less accountable security companies in the West Midlands and Surrey.

The proposal was being discussed at a time when police forces face spending cuts of 20 per cent, with inevitable jobs losses. The cutbacks sparked fury at the Police Federation’s conference this week and the Home Secretary, Theresa May, was heckled by rank-and-file officers.

Announcing the delay to privatisation plans, the Surrey Chief Constable, Lynne Owens said the immediate focus for her force was the Olympics. “My absolute priority must be to protect our frontline policing… and I need to reflect on every opportunity that enables me to do that.”

The deferral means that new police commissioners, to be elected in November, will have the main say in whether the Home Office-backed plans go ahead. Commissioners will be given powers including the right to hire and fire chief constables and to direct future spending. One of the front-runners in the West Midlands, Bob Jones, believes the privatisation plan to be “completely flawed and completely unbusinesslike” and wants it scrapped in its present form. “I am very sceptical of the process so far,” he said. “I don’t see there are any benefits from it.”

The delay was welcomed by unions who vowed to maintain the pressure over the project. “These are the first indications that plans to privatise the police service could be unravelling,” said Peter Allenson, of the Unite union.

West Midlands police is still promoting the scheme but the Chief Constable Chris Sims insisted: “We are owned by the public and we always will be. Policing will not be privatised and is not up for sale.”

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