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September 29, 2008

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Tories renew pledge on reforming “stifling” HSWA

The Conservatives have renewed their promise that, if elected to government, they would relax the sections of the Health and Safety at Work etc., Act 1974 that apply to the Police to ensure that they are free to carry out their duties effectively.

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve reiterated the pledge in a speech at the Tory party conference today. The announcement was first made by Grieve’s predecessor, David Davis, earlier this year, and was reported in SHP’s June issue (see link below).

Pointing out that public confidence in the Police has fallen from 72 per cent in 2003 to 57 per cent this year, Grieve said: “When police officers are on patrol, they should be focused 100 per cent on protecting the public, not worrying in the back of their mind about being prosecuted if they put a foot wrong under pressure.”

Grieve stated: “We now have a health and safety regime, which is so stifling, that it delayed armed officers attending the victims of a shooting for an hour after the gunman had fled, but prosecuted them for mistakes made during the heat of a counter-terrorism operation.”

He continued: “Health and safety legislation is holding police officers back, making them more risk-averse. It is dangerous and undermines public confidence.”

According to the BBC, the Tories would amend section 2 of the HSWA so that protecting the public from risk takes priority over the risk to police officers.

The party also intends to amend sections 3 and 7 of the Act so that police cannot be prosecuted when high-pressure operations go awry, as was the case with the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Tube station in 2005. The HSWA has applied to police work since 1997.

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