ACPO’s lead for roads policing has told the BBC that she believes tougher penalties are required for drivers using mobile phones, but the issue is being avoided by politicians because of the upcoming General Election.
Suzette Davenport, who is also Gloucestershire’s chief constable, told the BBC that any increase in punishments for drivers caught "would not be popular" – and with an election in a little over two months the Government is “keen to avoid such unhelpful changes”.
CC Davenport told the BBC: "My view is that if someone is caught twice using a mobile phone within a period of time we should be considering things like disqualifications for short periods of time. I believe if we don’t do something fundamentally different we are going to lose this."
CC Davenport’s comments come in the wake of data published last week by the DfT which shows that drivers are now more likely to be using their phone for texting and social media, rather than making a call.
In response to CC Davenport’s claims, Robert Goodwill, road safety minister, suggested the onus is on police chiefs to devote more resources to detecting drivers using mobile phones.
Robert Goodwill told the BBC: "I’ve certainly not had representations from colleagues saying, ‘Don’t do this, because of the election’.
"I may have had colleagues saying, ‘Don’t do this, because we need to think about the actual numbers of people we catch’.
"Because, as with any offence, the penalty is part of the story but getting caught is the other part of the story. And I think it’s important that police and crime commissioners and chief constables look at the resources they put into this, as opposed to other more easy-to-detect crimes like speeding."