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The 2019 Queen’s Speech had committed the Government to introducing these measures as a standalone piece of legislation: the “Police Powers and Protections Bill”. The Queen’s Speech Bill would have also included provisions relating to the policing of unauthorised encampments (which are now in Part 4 of this Bill).

What would the Bill do?

Part 1 of the Bill would:

  • Require the Home Secretary reports annually on work to uphold a Police Covenant.
  • Amend the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 to increase the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker from 12 months to two years.
  • Allow police specials (volunteer police officers) to join the Police Federation (the staff association for rank-and-file police officers).
  • Amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 so trained police drivers are no longer compared to regular drivers for the offences of dangerous and careless driving. Under the Bill trained police drivers would be compared to what is expected of a trained police driver when deciding if they had committed the dangerous/ careless driving.

Territorial extent

Policing is a devolved issue in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Most of Part 1 of the Bill applies in England and Wales only. However, road traffic legislation is not devolved. The provisions in the Road Traffic Act 1988 the Bill would amend do extend to Scotland. Therefore, the provisions in the Bill relating to police driving extend to Scotland.

How does this fit with Government policy?

The 2019 Conservative Party manifesto committed to “back our police” by (amongst other things) putting a Police Covenant into law and consulting on doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting workers in emergency services. Shortly after being appointed as Home Secretary, Priti Patel gave a keynote speech at the 2019 Conservative Party Conference announcing this pledge to “back” the police as they fight serious and violent crime. However, all the policies in Part 1 of the Bill were first announced by her predecessor Sajid Javid, who was Home Secretary when Theresa May was Prime Minister.

The Police Federation has been campaigning for all the policies in Part 1 of the Bill. It has called for increased sentences for those who assault emergency workers and for driving offences to be amended to account for police driving training in their “protect the protectors” campaign. The Federation has been campaigning separately for police specials to join their organisation. They have also been enthusiastic about the prospect of a Police Covenant.

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