Roads policing should be prioritised in the government’s pledge to hire 20,000 additional police officers, according to the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS).
The council, whose founders were responsible for the 1981 seatbelt legislation, claims in a report that “successive years of cutbacks in roads policing” are partly responsible for the number of road deaths stagnating for the past decade.
The report claims there is “clear evidence” that specialist roads policing is effective and a boost in numbers would be welcomed by the public. It looks at the 'Fatal 4' offences (speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, driving under the influence of drink or drugs and using a mobile phone at the wheel) and claims that where enforcement has increased, casualties from these offences has dropped.
PACTS executive director David Davies said: “The coronavirus lockdown has highlighted the importance of roads policing, with traffic speeds increasing on empty roads and worrying incidents of extreme speeding. This could have serious consequences, particularly for people following government advice to walk and cycle.
“The number of road deaths is more than twice the deaths from homicide and terrorism combined and breaches of road traffic laws are the biggest single cause of road deaths. This needs to be recognised in the government’s priorities and resources for policing.”
The report claims that although the total number of all police officers in all forces in England and Wales fell by around 13% between 2010 and 2019, the number of dedicated roads policing officers fell by 22% between 2010 and 2014 and 18% between 2015 and 2019. The Police Federation claims there are actually substantially fewer specialist officers than even these numbers illustrate.