The number of traffic police that are operating on English and Welsh roads has declined by 23% since 2010, with all but two forces showing that they have fewer officers than they did 5 years ago, and one force having to declare that they had no full time, dedicated traffic officers operating for a period of two years.
Motoring groups and critics have hit out at the news which was announced following a question in Parliament, saying that it is down to budget cuts and austerity measures, but the Home Office has defended the figures saying that, while it is true that the police have had to endure cuts to help reduce the country’s deficit, they continue to have the money required in order to ensure efficiency and to be sure that criminals are being stopped and arrested.
With new laws introduced to prevent tailgating and other offences in 2013, and new laws to criminalise drug driving set to be enforced from next month, however, there are concerns that the new laws will only add further pressure. The RAC has said that while static cameras do a good job of catching offenders that are guilty of crimes like speeding and not stopping at red lights, other offences that represent general bad behaviour on the roads, such as using a mobile phone or handheld device while driving, will go unpunished.
Devon and Cornwall was the worst hit force, with a 76% drop in the number of officers dedicated to patrolling roads and capturing offenders that are guilty of traffic offences. They also had no full-time dedicated traffic officers for the twelve month periods ending in March 2012 and March 2013.
There were two forces, however, that saw an increase in the number of traffic officers that they had. Suffolk and Warwickshire had more officers at the end of 2014 than at the end of 2010, but one primary point of concern for the motoring, The Institute of Advanced Motorists, is the fact that there was an increase in the number of deaths on the road, following a series of declines in the numbers in previous years.