Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PR 109)



1. Position under current legislation

1.1. At present, where officers are assigned to collaboration with another force, the primary duty to ensure their health, safety and welfare continues to be placed on their chief officer under Section 2 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (the HSW Act), by virtue of the Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997. However, this duty is qualified by "so far as is reasonably practicable". Where officers are deployed to other areas they are no longer under the direction and control of their own chief officer.

1.2. In addition, regulation 11 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 requires each employer who shares a workplace to cooperate with the other employers concerned to enable them to comply with the relevant law, coordinate the measures necessary and inform the other employers about the risk arising to their employees’ health and safety. The definition of a workplace includes any outdoor place which is made available as place of work.

1.3. This means that, where officers are working under a collaboration agreement outside their home force, a suitable and sufficient operational risk assessment should be prepared by the host force together with the officers’ home force, and logically this should be done in advance of the deployment. The outcomes of this risk assessment should include issues such as training, PPE and supervision: in all a full safe system of work. Both forces should satisfy themselves that the arrangements adopted following the operational risk assessments are adequate for the risks involved. Ultimately, the officers’ chief constable still retains the duty to ensure their health, safety and welfare under Section 2 of the HSW Act.

1.4. Underpinning all of this is Section 3 of the HSW Act which places a duty on an employer (in this case, the chief officer of the host force) to conduct his undertaking to ensure, so far is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment (e.g. Mutual Aid officers) are not thereby exposed to risks to their health and safety. So, if an accident were to occur to a mutual aid officer who was at that time fully under the direction and control of the host force, and the underlying cause of the accident was a management failure by that force , then Section 3 of the HSW Act would be relevant.

2. Flaws resulting from the current legislation

2.1. With the present position, training in their home force before deployment would not necessarily fit officers for the operational tactics and procedures used in the force with which they would be collaborating. There is no national compulsory level of training across the Service: there is only guidance. This would also impact upon equipment, safe systems of work, etc., and would be exacerbated by the present financial climate.

2.2. Section 3 of the HSW Act does not include a duty to ensure the welfare of persons such as mutual aid officers, and this could become particularly important if officers were deployed on emergency or public order duties. Presently, there is an agreement in place called the Hertfordshire Agreement which stems from the Police Negotiating Board (PNB) and provides for minimum standards of welfare for mutual aid police officers.

3. The position if proposals in the Police Reform Bill become law

3.1. Schedule 15, Part 3, paragraph 57 of the Police Reform Bill contains

an amendment to section 51A of the HSW Act to the effect that, where an officer or a special constable is deployed under a section 22A collaboration agreement under the direction and control of a chief officer, that chief officer assumes the employer’s duty under section 2 of the HSW Act. The changes will give the host chief constable total responsibility for mutual aid officers supporting their force, as described above, having to ensure that the mutual aid officers receive suitable training, equipment and supervision as previously agreed. This may create conflict, especially in the current financial climate, where there are no compulsory national standards across the Service.

3.2. No reasoning has been given for this change, certainly not in the Home Office/NPIA Statutory Guidance for Police Collaboration published in March 2010, where the applicable health and safety legislation was set out in detail, following consultation with the Federation, in paragraphs 175 to 177:

"The chief officer of the force of which an officer is a member will retain duties as employer under section 2 of the Health and Safety etc at Work Act 1974 (by virtue of the Police (Health and Safety) Act 1997) and under Regulations, by virtue of section s51A(2 (a) of the 1974 Act, regardless of whether that officer is in fact under his/her direction and control. Other duties in relation to the officer, including under section 3 of the Act and under Regulations, may be owed by the chief officers of other forces in the collaboration."

3.3. Regulation 11 of the Management Regulations would still apply after the changes, so that joint risk assessments would still be required covering training, equipment and supervision.

4. Conclusions

4.1. The flaw concerning varying standards of training, equipment etc which exists under the current legislation would still be a problem when the host chief constable takes over Section 2 duties, since they could not ensure that the training and equipment achieves the standard in their force. The only way to achieve consistency would be to have compulsory national standards. In the absence of such standards, the proposed changes would cause more confusion for the regulating bodies such as HSE, IPCC and CPS. Therefore the Police Federation of England and Wales cannot support the proposed amendment to this piece of legislation in its present format for the reasons already outlined.

February 2011