Following a Government consultation begun way back in 2012, HMRC is to be officially granted permission to break the speed limit; the same exemption granted to Police, Ambulance and Fire services.
Although not a recognised emergency service, HMRC will be allowed to break the speed limit where their agents are investigating ‘major’ crimes, such as drug smuggling or human trafficking. Alongside the taxman, the Border Agency and security services will also be granted exemptions. In order to take advantage of their newfound speed, HMRC agents will have to undergo an advanced driving course and be licensed by the Driving Standards Agency.
The decision to grant these extra powers to HMRC was far from unanimous – the consultation which led to this decision notes that many participants were unhappy extending potentially life-endangering powers beyond the three core emergency services.
Those against the measures “were not convinced that [HMRC’s] activities required an emergency response,” and “argued that generally lives were not in immediate danger and in instances where they were the police can and could assist if required.”
Other participants in the consultation expressed concern that HMRC vehicles will not be using blue lights and warning sirens while travelling at high speed, increasing the chance of collisions.