There has been a significant drop in the number of traffic police in the past decade, a new report has revealed.
Biggest drop in past 5 years
A Press Association Freedom of Information (FOI) request to all 45 territorial forces found that in the past 10 years, the number of dedicated traffic police has fallen by 30%, with a drop of 24% between 2012 and 2017.
In 2007, there were 3,766 traffic officers. In 2012 this had dropped slightly to 3,472. But by this year, it had fallen significantly to 2,643.
While a number of forces actually increased the number of traffic officers between 2007 and 2012, budget cuts hit these numbers between 2012 and 2017.
Experts are now concerned that new laws on using mobiles while driving won’t be enforced. The AA says the drop in numbers could see more drivers getting away with crimes.
A spokesman said: “The UK has among the safest roads in Europe, although the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads has started to rise after many years of steady decline. Maybe there is a link? Even senior officers have publicly expressed concern at the falling number of their colleagues.”
The Home Office claims effective road policing is not just dependent on dedicated traffic officers. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) also pointed out that all officers were able to help traffic specialists.
Changing roles plays a part
The biggest drop in numbers was in Gwent – from 94 in 2007 to none now. This was because Gwent had amalgamated traffic officers into “multi-skilled roles”.
Labour’s shadow minister for policing and crime Louise Haigh, a former special constable, said: “These savage cuts will deeply alarm the public as reckless drivers will feel able to offend with impunity.”
Jason Wakeford, from road safety charity Brake, said: “On average, five people die every single day on our roads. This is unacceptable. The Government and police forces have to start treating road policing as a national priority and reverse the savage cuts to officer numbers.”
The Home Office said resources was a matter for chief constables and crime commissioners, who “understand their operational needs better than anyone”.
Reference: Daily Mail
Date Published: August 13, 2017
Author: Jonathan Brown