Wed, 30 Jan 2019
The message that ‘officer welfare matters’ was loud and clear at our Roads Policing Conference at Hinckley, Leicestershire, on 29-30 January.
More than 200 delegates attended the Police Federation of England and Wales’ annual event, which is the only one of its kind in the UK.
In a session which tackled the issue of trauma – with roads policing officers being repeatedly exposed to fatal incidents on the roads – national Vice-Chair, Che Donald, called for more awareness of mental health in policing: “Roads police officers pride themselves on ensuring their vehicles are clean, tyre pressures are right and their equipment is ready to go – but do we do that with ourselves?” he said.
Dr Paul Jackson discussed the effects of fatigue on officers, pointing to changes that have taken place within the airline industry to address the issue of fatigue among pilots, as a way forward.
The mental anguish of police officers who have “been through hell” – prosecuted for dangerous driving and subjected to long, drawn-out legal processes, because the law currently offers no legal protection for response drivers was also high on the agenda.
Conference heard from Tim Rogers, PFEW’s Pursuits Lead, who said significant progress has been made over the past year, with the Home Office, Crown Prosecution Service and Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) all agreeing that the law must change. However, ministers are still dragging their heels.
Barrister Mark Aldred spoke about his experience of representing officers who have fallen foul of the law and advised delegates not to trust Home Office assurances that police officers would not be prosecuted for pursuit drives – they “mean nothing” in reality, he said.
Due to Brexit, neither Transport Minister Jesse Norman MP, nor Shadow Policing Minister Louise Haigh MP, were able to attend the conference in person, and both elected to send a video message instead. Policing Minister Nick Hurd joined the discussions on Twitter saying: "I understand and share the frustration about the slow pace of progress on changing the law."
The non-attendance of the IOPC was repeatedly mentioned, particularly in a session which heard from two Metropolitan Police officers who had been subjected to a three year IOPC investigation, after which they were found not to have been responsible for the death of a moped driver.
Conference also heard from Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), on his vision for the UK having the “safest roads in the world”. He told the audience that deaths had fallen since 2007 but had started to plateau in recent years, due to the fall in dedicated roads policing officers.
The conference also recognised Operation Tutelage, a joint operation by Thames Valley Police and Hampshire Constabulary targeting uninsured drivers, as the winner of this year’s Outstanding Contribution to Roads Policing Award. Inspector Simon Hills, who leads the operation, has presided over an 80 percent drop in uninsured drivers, allowing forces to focus resources on the persistent minority.
Meanwhile, Frances Senior, an accomplished scene of crime officer with 24 years’ service, warned delegates about the dangers of making assumptions, when investigating a road collision.
PFEW’s Roads Policing Lead, Dave Blundell, said: “This year’s conference was a great success and got to grips with many of the key issues in roads policing today – I am grateful to everyone who participated, our speakers and sponsors.”
© 2018 Police Federation of England & Wales