The number of full-time traffic police operating in England and Wales has been cut by almost a third since 2010, according to Auto Express.
Auto Express says its investigations show that in the five year period, officer numbers fell from 5,327 to 3,742, with 36 of the 42 forces in England and Wales recording fewer staff.
The fall comes against a backdrop of new traffic laws, including roadside drug-driving tests and a ban on smoking in cars carrying passengers under the age of 18-years – leading to concerns about how effectively the police can enforce them.
When the new smoking law came into force in October 2015, a RAC Opinion Panel suggested that 92% of motorists did not have confidence that it would be effectively enforced, while the RAC Report on Motoring 2015 revealed that 79% of respondents felt there was no point in increasing penalties for driving offences until there was effective enforcement.
At around the same time, the Transport Committee announced that it is to conduct an inquiry into road traffic law enforcement to scrutinise how effectively the Government’s policies to improve road safety, by tackling dangerous or careless driving, are being enforced.
The Auto Express investigation found that the West Midlands force has seen the most dramatic fall in full-time police, down from 351 to 115, while the City of London Police no longer operates an independent traffic unit at all, due to budget limitations.
A National Police Chiefs’ Council spokesman told Auto Express: “Individual police forces decide themselves how best to allocate resources and keep their communities safe.
“Some may decide to reduce the numbers of specialist traffic officers, but this does not necessarily mean that their roads are not adequately policed. They can deploy a range of resources, including specialist modern technology, and use public information reports and guidance about road offenders.
“All police officers are available to help those who are traffic policing specialists when needed. Every chief constable takes good care to ensure that road users in their area are kept as safe as possible.”