PCC asks for clarification on police ‘vehicle pursuits’ after MP question

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Screenshot PCC (r) & Chief Constable (l) Accountability Meeting October 5, 2023
Screenshot of PCC (r) & Chief Constable (l) Accountability Meeting 5 October 2023. Image: LDRS

Despite what some officers have claimed, Bedfordshire Police will engage in vehicle pursuits once the risk has been assessed, the chief constable has said.

During their recent Accountability Meeting (5 October) Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), Festus Akinbusoye, asked the chief constable for clarification of the force’s policies on pursuits.

“Especially in cases where someone is using a motorbike and they don’t have a helmet on,” he said.

“There is this perception that the police won’t do anything and the criminals know this.

“Andrew Selous raised a question about this in parliament not long ago.

“He received a response from the policing minister saying that something has been done in the Met to tackle this issue and he says that Bedfordshire Police has the same power and it needs to be used.

“So can you just clarify once and for all what the force’s position is on this?” he asked.

“Some of your officers have been telling councillors that they can’t do anything because they’ve been told not to,” he added.

The chief constable, Trevor Rodenhurst replied: “It’s not about policies, it’s about assessing the risk.

“I heard that some of my officers have said that and a clear message has been passed to help them understand what our position is.

“I won’t go into the details of the tactics we specifically do and don’t use,” he said.

“Pursuits are inherently dangerous, that is a fact, either in cars or on motorbikes but we still undertake them.

“Any pursuit will be managed by the force control room inspector who looks at what they’ve been involved in, the seriousness of the offence, and all other factors [such as] where it’s happening.

“And looks at what tactical options we can use to bring it to a safe conclusion.

“It’s the control room inspector who decides whether a pursuit is or isn’t authorised.

“There’s nothing to prevent local officers implementing what we call a compliance stop.

“Obviously if there’s a failure to stop at that point then there’s an offence committed,” he said.

“When they are used in [antisocial behaviour] we can normally trace them through identifying marks, registrations, and gather evidence of that [incidence],” he said.

He added that just because officers hadn’t intervened at the time that a possible offence won’t be investigated.

“If we’ve got the details of the vehicle we can require the owner to tell us who’s using it, and if they don’t they commit an offence themselves,” he said.

“So there’s lots of things available to us.”

He said that the force has put some “enhanced resources” in place in some areas where there “seems to be a prevalence” of these kinds of issues.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter