Last year saw a further fall in the number of full-time roads policing officers tasked with enforcing motoring laws and keeping local and major highways in England and Wales safe, indicates new data says the RAC.
Figures supplied in answer to a parliamentary question show1 there were 1,437 fewer dedicated roads policing officers outside London last year than in 2010, taking the overall tally to 3,901 officers – a 27% reduction.
Therefore between 2010 and 2015, there was the equivalent of more than 5 fewer officers each week whose responsibilities were predominantly roads policing and accident investigation.
Thirty out of 42 forces recorded a fall in the number of roads policing officers between 2014 and 2015 – collectively accounting for 352 fewer officers. West Yorkshire saw a reduction of 91 officers, explained by a switch to mixed speciality units.
|Avon and Somerset witnessed the next biggest fall in officer numbers (34 fewer officers, a 35% drop), while Northamptonshire saw the next greatest reduction as a proportion of all dedicated roads policing officers (21 fewer officers, a 36% drop).
Just twelve forces reported increases in dedicated roads policing officers year-on-year, totalling 162 more officers, although these increases do not make up for the losses within other forces, leading to the overall net reduction in numbers.
|South Wales went down 5.8%
Dyfed Powys 4.2%
Gwent dipped 3.3%
North Wales decreased 2.9%
Essex claimed a near-doubling of officers (up 72 to 148 officers), while Devon and Cornwall reported 31 more officers (up from 57) and Cheshire 30 more (up from 89). The remaining nine forces gained on average three dedicated officers each.
RAC head of external affairs Pete Williams said: “Overall, these figures make for grim reading and are likely to be met with dismay by law-abiding motorists.
“While some of the numbers may be explained by organisational changes, such as officers taking on multiple roles and police forces working in partnership to tackle crime, the data still clearly shows that a majority of forces have seen a further fall in the number of officers whose primary responsibility is tackling crime on our roads.
“A recent report made by the Transport Select Committee3 called on the Government to support police forces in maintaining the numbers of specialist officers on the roads. We look forward to the Government’s response to the Committee’s recommendations given the data now available.