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Professional Police Driver Programme Begins

Professional Police Driver Programme Begins

New Zealand Police is introducing a new professional driver assessment, classification and training programme for its staff, starting this month.

The Professional Police Driver Programme (PPDP) will see all staff who are required to drive police vehicles assessed on their driving ability, attitude, risk management, decision-making and driving record. Where gaps are identified, training will be offered.

National Road Policing Manager, Superintendent Steve Fitzgerald, says the PPDP has been designed to address safety concerns and to put systems in place to better manage police driving.

"The unique nature of police driving poses potential health and safety risks to both staff and the public that we have an obligation to minimise and mitigate wherever possible.

"Police officers generally drive to a very high standard in often difficult and stressful situations, but until now we’ve had only ad hoc systems to identify and address any driving issues once staff leave the Police College.

"We’ve developed the PPDP to further professionalise police driving and better enable Police to address safety concerns."

The PPDP is part of a wider set of initiatives designed to improve safety, including livery and lights, and improved pursuit and urgent duty driving policies. The next step will be to assess technological enhancements such as automatic vehicle location systems, in-car video and hands-free microphones.

Mr Fitzgerald says a team of 12 experienced and specially trained police officers will begin the PPDP assessment process this month, starting with frontline staff most likely to be involved in urgent duty driving.

Depending on the outcome of the assessment, officers will be assigned a Gold, Silver or Bronze classification.

Once the initial round of assessments is completed, a set of policies will come into effect that will specify the driving duties for each classification.

Mr Fitzgerald says many staff already drive to a high standard and it’s expected that most will achieve a Silver or Gold classification at their first attempt.

"However the phased implementation gives officers the opportunity to address any issues identified during their initial assessment before the three-tier classification system comes into full effect. Training will be offered and they will be able to improve their grading if they meet the criteria," he says.

In introducing the PPDP, New Zealand Police will be joining peer police organisations in the UK, USA and Australia that also have formal systems to manage police driving.

"Those jurisdictions have experienced an improvement in safety and I expect that over time we will see the same thing happening here," Mr Fitzgerald says.

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