Police express unease over new on-the-spot fines

10.40 | 16 May 2011 | | 1 comment

The Lancashire Police Federation has warned of potential difficulties with the new on-the-spot penalties for careless driving, announced by the Government last week (Lancashire Evening Post).

The new powers will allow police officers to give fixed penalty fines to motorists who commit offences including tailgating, undertaking or cutting up other drivers. They were introduced as part of the DfT’s ‘Strategic Framework for Road Safety’.

John O’Reilly, of the Lancashire Police Federation, said: “It’s going to be difficult in that officers will have to carry extra paperwork to process the notice of offence at the roadside. It will be a change in the way we do things. We will have to wait and see what sort of reaction it gets from our members. I’m not sure if it will be for the better.”

The Government says the new approach will offer retraining and education courses for low-level offences and will target genuinely reckless drivers, rather than wasting police and court time by taking law-abiding motorists to court.

Prof Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, also voiced unease about the new strategy amid cuts to police resources.

He said: “This strategy certainly addresses anti-social behaviour on the roads but it is questionable whether it tackles the key areas which cause injury and death.

“Either way, the three things needed to make these plans work are enforcement, enforcement, enforcement.

“With police services being cut, it is far from certain the desired results can be achieved. Without adequate enforcement, there is no strategy.”

In a separate WalesOnline news report, it has been revealed that the number of traffic officers employed by Welsh police forces has fallen by nearly a third in three years, raising questions about how the new strategy can be enforced.

A spokesman for the Association of British Drivers said: "The problem is there are so few police cars that the chances of any driver getting caught by the police for under-taking is negligible. The police already have the powers to stop these things but there are so few officers."

Click here to read the Lancashire Evening Post report.


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    At the 11th hour of my road safety career I am encouraged to hear an academic saying what a practitioner has been saying for years. “Without enforcement, there is no strategy.” I am humbly indebted to Prof. Stephen Glaister. Perhaps, if the people in gret suits in Whitehall listen to him I will retire smiling. The down-side is he will get the OBE, not me.

    Roy Buchanan, Sutton
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