Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on the Government to make roads policing a national policing priority, in response to its own research revealing that the number of traffic police has been cut by 11.6% in five years.
Cuts to roads policing have been widespread throughout the past decade: In 1999 there were 7,525 dedicated traffic police in England and Wales, falling to 6,511 in 2005. Brake’s research reveals this trend has continued across the UK. Cuts are especially severe in Wales, where traffic police numbers have fallen by a 37% since 2007.
The cuts are six times greater than to overall police numbers (down by 1.8% since 2007), according to data from 43 UK forces.
Brake is calling for Government action to put a stop to these cuts, which it warns will lead to more drivers thinking they can get away illegal behaviour, including driving drunk, drugged, on a mobile phone or driving an un-roadworthy vehicle.
Brake also warns that Government proposals to introduce roadside drug testing devices will be a hollow gesture if roads police numbers continue to fall.
Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive, said: “It is crucial the Government acts now to put a stop to these dramatic cuts in life-saving roads policing, by making this a national policing priority. This is crucial in safeguarding the public and preventing needless casualties, and it also makes economic sense.
“Investing in roads policing, and stepping up critical checks like breath-testing, helps stop crashes before they happen, meaning less families suffering and reduced costs to the taxpayer.”
Alan Jones, chairman of the Roads Policing Group, Police Federation England & Wales, said: “I am not surprised at the findings announced in this report. Policing the roads should be a priority for Government and chief constables. As police forces try to deal with a staggering 20% budget cut, their resources and capabilities are being stretched to a point where delivery of service is difficult to sustain.
“We all know the consequences of drivers who fail to heed the rules of the road or drive with complete disregard for others. The cost of cutting back far outweighs the benefits of investing in protecting a key front line service.”
For more information contact Ellen Booth on 01484 550067.