While joint road safety schemes implemented by the police and fire service are “well received”, they are threatened by challenges around proving their effectiveness, according to an officer from West Midlands Police (Police Oracle).
Sergeant Russell Webb made his comments about joint initiatives by West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service, including a film called The Ripple Effect (above) which was produced to deliver safety messages to new drivers.
The two forces have also developed an intervention to combat speeding and anti-social use of vehicles in the South Yardley district of Birmingham.
Speaking to Police Oracle, Sergeant Webb said: “Giving drivers who previously had a good driving history the chance to avoid prosecution by attending an educational session at the fire station, run by officers from both services, has been well received.
"People who have previously attended other speed awareness courses said they didn’t take much from those – whereas they said this was fantastic.
“A key part of this approach was that we wanted it to be educational rather than punitive. We didn’t want to talk down to people or make them feel like they were getting told off – and they responded to that.”
As well as classroom based teaching the intervention included a practical demonstration of casualty extraction from a vehicle.
Sergeant Webb concluded: “What we have done so far has been looked at as best practice, but the biggest challenge is how to evaluate it. How do we prove it has a statistical impact?”
His concerns were echoed by Colin Heyes from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, who said: “We had a very similar initiative which ran for 10 years in Cheshire and which worked very well, but last year the police pulled away from it.
“It was a senior management decision within the police because of a lack of evaluating it – we couldn’t measure the impact it was having. It’s hard to measure the effect these things have, but that doesn’t mean it’s not having one.”