The DVSA has launched a new campaign to tackle what it describes as an ‘unacceptable rise’ in assaults on its employees.
Launched today (10 August), the campaign comes on the back of new DVSA figures which show that more than 300 driving examiners, vehicle testers and roadside enforcement staff suffered physical or verbal abuse in 2016, a year-on-year increase of more than 50%.
The campaign will include a trial in which frontline staff will wear body cameras, with all threat, physical assault and ‘driving away’ incidents referred to the police.
Other measures include making abusive learner drivers resit their driving test at another test centre, and including evidence of abuse from commercial drivers and operators as part of any investigation for traffic commissioners.
The DVSA says its 4,600 employees play a vital role in helping keep Britain’s roads safe.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, said: “I am immensely proud of my colleagues at DVSA, all of whom work incredibly hard to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads. We do not tolerate anyone abusing, threatening or assaulting them.
“Our message is clear – whatever has happened, don’t take it out on our staff. If you do, we’ll press for the strongest possible penalties.”
According to the DVSA, attacks on its employees range from ‘screamed profanity and threats to kill’, to damaging employees’ cars and offices and serious physical assaults.
Driving examiners remain the number one target, suffering abuse from people who fail the driving test. DVSA cites an example of one learner who, after committing a number of serious errors and being asked to bring the vehicle to a safe stop, resorted instead to swearing at the examiner and driving wildly across a dual carriageway.
DVSA says vehicle examiners and roadside enforcement staff are also ‘bullied’. The Agency points to an incident when a driver and operator from a scaffolding firm made a false claim against a DVSA employee who had caught the firm committing tachograph offences.
Nick Jones, traffic commissioner for Wales, said: “My fellow traffic commissioners and I welcome the Agency’s campaign to tackle the unacceptable abuse which staff may face whilst carrying out their professional duties.”