Policing cuts are putting public at risk, warns charity

10.21 | 27 January 2012 | | 2 comments

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.


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    Is this a very good lesson that just because 2 things occur at the same time, that does NOT suggest 1 caused the other?

    The last 5 years has seen some of the best road safety improvements ever, at the same time as “the number of traffic police has been cut by 11.6%”.

    Isn’t the most likely explanation that the recession has caused BOTH the road safety improvements AND the Police cuts?

    Perhaps the recession is a double-edged sword?

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It seems to me that the media/political misconception that Roads Policing Officers deal primarily with policing motorists “instead of real crime” is entrenched and has a lot to do with these cuts. This must be the atttitude of the senior police officers who are making the cuts – if they saw Roads Policing as being equally important as CID or Neighbourhood teams, the proportion of cuts would be more easily spread. Yet there is plenty of evidence to show that Roads Policing Patrols make a high number of criminal arrests, that their presence in an intelligence led, coordinated patrolling programme disrupts the ability of criminals to use the road network to travel to and from the places where they commit their crimes and that those motoroists who presistently flout road traffic regulations e.g. tax and insurance, are much more likely to have the same attitude towards other laws. i.e. people who don’t pay tax and insurance or MoT their cars are much more likely to commit other crimes as well. Thieves travel in vehicles on the roads. One good example is the prevalence of metal thefts – operations to target likely vehicles have been very successful in catching metal thieves and in hampering their activities.

    I find it very frustrating that the myth persists and that Chief Constables have recommended disproportionately severe cuts to be made to roads policing units in order to “save” other departments that they clearly think are more important.

    Honor Byford, North Yorkshire
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