Page last updated at 12:27 GMT, Thursday, 12 November 2009

Police chiefs ditch cycle manual

A police constable on a bike
Bobbies on bikes can help to combat street crime

Police chiefs have said they will not be going ahead with a manual advising bobbies on how to ride a bike safely following complaints about the cost.

The Police Cycle Training Doctrine has guidance on how to balance, brake and avoid obstacles in the road.

The Taxpayers' Alliance pressure group called it "an absurd waste of police time and taxpayers' money".

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said it would not "be taking it forward".

A draft of the 93-page, two-volume booklet, seen by The Sun, warns officers not to tackle suspects while they are still "engaged with the cycle".

Risk assessment

It includes a diagram on "deployment into a junction" and advises constables to wear padded shorts for "in-saddle comfort".

There is a recognition that undercover officers might have to ride without a safety helmet, but it is accompanied by a warning: "This lack of protection must be noted and a full risk assessment of the required role undertaken."

The paper estimates that it would cost thousands of pounds to produce such a booklet.

Susie Squire, political director of the Taxpayers' Alliance - which campaigns for lower taxes and greater government efficiency - told BBC News: "I've no doubt that the people behind this are well intentioned, but it is bonkers.

"We often hear from police officers how much time is spent on red tape. I think the booklet is slightly insulting the intelligence of bobbies and you have to ask how necessary this is.

"We believe that police forces should focus their resources on front line policing and that is a message that our campaign director will be delivering when he speaks at ACPO's autumn conference today."

London Mayor Boris Johnson, who is a keen cyclist, said: "I am sure it is of great value."

Mr Johnson said he hadn't seen the booklet, but he imagined it could be produced more cheaply than the thousands of pounds estimated by The Sun.

He was sure it was "very, very sound advice" that officers should dismount before tackling suspects.

'Duty of care'

Jo Stagg of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents told BBC News: "It is really important that adult cyclists are trained and if you have to go out on the road as part of your job your employer has a duty of care.

"One of the ways that duty can be exercised is by offering training and guidance.

"We would expect police officers to be exemplary road users.

"The language in this booklet might be a bit technical and inappropriate for ordinary cyclists but we need to remember that officers need advice when they are carrying out operational duties on their bikes.

"I can't comment on whether ACPO should take this particular manual forward and I don't know what advice individual forces issue."

An ACPO spokesperson said: "This work was neither requested nor drawn up by ACPO and we do not endorse it.

"It was put forward by a group of well-meaning police officers with an interest in this area. ACPO will not be taking it forward."

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