February 11 2015
Fewer traffic police are patrolling the roads in England and Wales compared to five years ago while annual road casualties in Britain continue to rise, Government statistics have revealed.
The number of officers dedicated to enforcing traffic offences has fallen by 23% since 2010, with personnel across the 43 police forces having been cut from 5635 to 4356 over that period.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “If there are not enough police on the road we can introduce all the new rules we want, but those breaking them just will not get caught.”
The figures show that the largest decrease in traffic police has been in Devon and Cornwall, where there were 239 officers in 2010 but are now just 57 – a reduction of 76%. Elsewhere Essex’s traffic police numbers fell by 71%, and Nottinghamshire’s by 68%.
A Home Office spokesperson said: “What matters is how officers are deployed, not how many of them there are in total. It is for chief constables, working with locally elected police and crime commissioners, to decide where best to allocate resources at a local level.”
Mr Williams said Government should be asking whether the reduction in traffic police is in any way connected to a recent rise in the number of deaths and injuries on the roads.
Department for Transport’s latest quarterly road casualty figures, released last week, show there were 24,360 killed or seriously injured casualties on Britain’s roads in the 12 months ending September 2014. This marks a 4% increase compared with the previous year.
Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety executive director David Davies said: “We have seen very limited progress in terms of casualty reduction over the last four years. The cut back in roads policing is worrying but is unlikely to be the only cause of increasing road casualties; the issue is far more complicated than that.
“The improving economy and increasing population and traffic levels are working against casualty reductions. But we have overcome these factors in the past and a more ambitious and comprehensive approach is now needed, led by Government.”
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