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Roads policing to be reviewed amid fears over lack of officers on highways


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Campaigners demand 'more cops in cars' as numbers drop by more than a quarter.

Inside view: A two-year study will consider how best to police all roads in England and Wales

Inside view: A two-year study will consider how best to police all roads in England and Wales

Date - 16th July 2019
By - Nick Hudson - Police Oracle
9 Comments9 Comments}

 

A government review into roads policing has been announced amid calls from safety campaigners for “more cops in cars”.

The Department for Transport will examine the effectiveness of how forces currently patrol highways against a backdrop of concerns over a dramatic drop in specialist officer numbers.

The two-year study will consider how best to police roads in rural and urban areas, major A-roads and motorways – and what is needed to bridge gaps and boost safety.

A pilot programme based on the findings could begin next year to test out new ways of working.

Road Safety Minister Michael Ellis said: "We have strong laws in place to ensure people are kept safe on our roads at all times.

"But roads policing is a key deterrent in stopping drivers breaking the law and risking their and other people's lives.

"This review will not only highlight where police forces are doing good work, it will show what more can be done to improve road safety."

The number of full-time roads policing officers in England and Wales outside London fell by more than a quarter from 5,338 in March 2010 to 3,901 in March 2015, according to Government data.

AA president Edmund King welcomed the review, but warned that some people believe they can "regularly drive or act dangerously in their cars and get away with it".

He went on: "The biggest deterrent to someone drink-driving, picking up their phone behind the wheel or driving without insurance, is to have a very strong and very visible police presence.

"While the public accepts that cameras and new technology are part of the toolkit available to forces in policing our roads, we should not underestimate the role of having more cops in cars."

The review will be jointly funded by the DfT and Highways England, and carried out in conjunction with the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs' Council.

It is part of the government's Road Safety Action Plan, which will be published on Friday

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I don’t think it’s particularly contentious or unknown that preventing criminals Freedom of movement assists in their capture. 

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I think its more aimed towards those using the highways and policing those roads, such as driver behaviour, breakdowns, RTCs etc rather  than the movement of criminals.  
There was talk a while back about how the strategic network was managed and what roles could be taken by non-police, as much to do with relieving police  resources to do other tasks as it was a review of the police role.  I could see how the roads will be broken down to the strategic road network  (Not all the SRN is motorways / dual carriageways) being policed quite differently to other roads.  

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It has been said before but I really cannot understand why the major Highways and Motorways in Britain were originally divided up amongst local Chief Constables (back in those days we're talking City and Parish Constabularies aswell not County ones! Crazy. ) and instead not being given a dedicated 'highways' police force as seen the world over or in line with railway policing of the day which had the old BTCP in place. 

It would make sense to me if the Highways Agency/England (whatever they're called now) had the ability to appoint their own officers to deal with crime, accidents etc on the nations motorways, their HATO officers already have quasi law enforcement powers as it is so it wouldn't be a massive step forward... The nations motorways are a specialist environment that requires a specialist approach to policing, traffic. Management and accident investigation. 

It is frankly crazy that our vital motorways and transport infrastructure is policed in such a fashion on a national level, my local force heavily cut back its roads policing team during the worst of the cuts. 

Edited by Radman
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1 hour ago, Radman said:

It has been said before but I really cannot understand why the major Highways and Motorways in Britain were originally divided up amongst local Chief Constables (back in those days we're talking City and Parish Constabularies aswell not County ones! Crazy. ) and instead not being given a dedicated 'highways' police force as seen the world over or in line with railway policing of the day which had the old BTCP in place. 

It would make sense to me if the Highways Agency/England (whatever they're called now) had the ability to appoint their own officers to deal with crime, accidents etc on the nations motorways, their HATO officers already have quasi law enforcement powers as it is so it wouldn't be a massive step forward... The nations motorways are a specialist environment that requires a specialist approach to policing, traffic. Management and accident investigation. 

It is frankly crazy that our vital motorways and transport infrastructure is policed in such a fashion on a national level, my local force heavily cut back its roads policing team during the worst of the cuts. 

The roads were never ‘originally divided up’. It made perfect sense for a police force to cover a geographic area and everything in that area. It is modern life that now gives some credence to a ‘British Rosa’s Police Force’. In 1850 it would not have been feasible for Ruralsville Police to Police the village pub, blacksmiths shop, fields and houses while the Roads Police dealt with the carts on the lanes between the fields. 

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31 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

The roads were never ‘originally divided up’. It made perfect sense for a police force to cover a geographic area and everything in that area. It is modern life that now gives some credence to a ‘British Rosa’s Police Force’. In 1850 it would not have been feasible for Ruralsville Police to Police the village pub, blacksmiths shop, fields and houses while the Roads Police dealt with the carts on the lanes between the fields. 

It doesn't make sense though does it?

I'm talking about the motorway networks specifically, most of it built in the 60s, you had small parish/rural constabularies policing small snippets of major roadways that formed a new national fast road network, breaking that up amongst what was 117 individual police constabularies. 

Conversely the railways at this time had a dedicated national police force to cover the national network for the same exact reason, it doesn't make sense geographically breaking up the policing of a national infrastructure. 

Personally speaking this could have been solved back in the 1950s and 1960s with the establishment of a dedicated highways force.

That seems like common sense to me. 🤷🏼‍♂️

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Small Parish and Rural forces had ceased to exist when motorways were first built in the 60's.  If you ever worked a motorway system you might be surprised how many criminals are caught by Traffic, Road Policing patrols. There were many officers without the aid of  Number Plater Recognition who could small a Criminal half a mile away.  By it mere existence Roads Policing will always be coming across commuting criminals, it has always been the case. I do not believe that it is any accident that with the decimation of Roads Policing detected crime rates fell, Drink and Drug driving increased as di serious cases of dangerous driving.

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8 minutes ago, Zulu 22 said:

Small Parish and Rural forces had ceased to exist when motorways were first built in the 60's.  If you ever worked a motorway system you might be surprised how many criminals are caught by Traffic, Road Policing patrols. There were many officers without the aid of  Number Plater Recognition who could small a Criminal half a mile away.  By it mere existence Roads Policing will always be coming across commuting criminals, it has always been the case. I do not believe that it is any accident that with the decimation of Roads Policing detected crime rates fell, Drink and Drug driving increased as di serious cases of dangerous driving.

This is why I think it is so important to have a national approach to major roads policing - criminals use the road networks to facilitate their crimes, its essential that it is policed properly and robustly. 

We had an ex-traffic cop who then worked for my local authority (retired now... Fully) He used to come down to the station as part of his job and we'd have a coffee with him most E/T the stories he'd tell where he would come across real mister crime, committing major crime all on the back of a traffic stop or Intel led. 

At the moment I don't think our motorways and major roads are recieving the policing they deserve, like I said in my first post during the massive cuts the roads policing team was the first to get slashed back, merged into an operations team. 

I think we could do better. 

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1 hour ago, Radman said:

It doesn't make sense though does it?

I'm talking about the motorway networks specifically, most of it built in the 60s, you had small parish/rural constabularies policing small snippets of major roadways that formed a new national fast road network, breaking that up amongst what was 117 individual police constabularies. 

Conversely the railways at this time had a dedicated national police force to cover the national network for the same exact reason, it doesn't make sense geographically breaking up the policing of a national infrastructure. 

Personally speaking this could have been solved back in the 1950s and 1960s with the establishment of a dedicated highways force.

That seems like common sense to me. 🤷🏼‍♂️

I know you are referring to motorways, but you do know the strategic road network has a high proportion of A class 2 lane (1 lane each direction) roads as well as the multi lane motorways.  
In the past past, one review was to consider how collisions were managed so as to clear the roads quicker - accepting the results (good or bad depending on your view) of the investment in supplying all police forces with 3d laser scanners to supposedly speed up road openings.   There are areas where attendance of the relevant resources CI/SIO etc to a serious collision can cause significant delays in the road opening procedures. 
Overall, won't be surprised at either nothing changing (more likely) or significant changes and amalgamations of lots of agencies into a dedicated SRN coverage. 

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1 hour ago, BlueBob said:

I know you are referring to motorways, but you do know the strategic road network has a high proportion of A class 2 lane (1 lane each direction) roads as well as the multi lane motorways.  
In the past past, one review was to consider how collisions were managed so as to clear the roads quicker - accepting the results (good or bad depending on your view) of the investment in supplying all police forces with 3d laser scanners to supposedly speed up road openings.   There are areas where attendance of the relevant resources CI/SIO etc to a serious collision can cause significant delays in the road opening procedures. 
Overall, won't be surprised at either nothing changing (more likely) or significant changes and amalgamations of lots of agencies into a dedicated SRN coverage. 

I can't see any significant changes happening. 

All we seem to be good at in Britain especially surrounding policing is either carrying on as normal (Border and Port Policing) or simply re-branding what was already in place (I'm thinking what was SOCA now NCA.) 

Very little fresh thinking or innovation. 

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1 hour ago, Radman said:

Very little fresh thinking or innovation. 

 

New Things Bad.

Old Things Good.

If it was good enough in the 1970s, it is good enough now etc etc

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10 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

I do not believe that it is any accident that with the decimation of Roads Policing [...], Drink and Drug driving increased as di serious cases of dangerous driving.

Actually the opposite is true. Roads policing was ‘decimated’ since the austerity cuts from 2008 over which time deaths from drink driving halved from 2008 to 2015 with a slight increase the following year while the total KSI fell from 12,000 to 9,000.

Over a similar period drink driving cases fell from 72,127 in 2005 to 37,578 in 2015. 

Seems the roads are safer without traffic cops on them! 

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17 hours ago, Radman said:

I can't see any significant changes happening. 

All we seem to be good at in Britain especially surrounding policing is either carrying on as normal (Border and Port Policing) or simply re-branding what was already in place (I'm thinking what was SOCA now NCA.) 

Very little fresh thinking or innovation. 

We could easily see a move towards a combined resource under one control /command, transition and increase of some roles and powers to the likes of HATO. Rebranding may be what happens, but using some staff from each area.  

It may not change, but, if we are to keep the SRN running smoothly, something has to change, including its policing.

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9 hours ago, Reasonable Man said:

Actually the opposite is true. Roads policing was ‘decimated’ since the austerity cuts from 2008 over which time deaths from drink driving halved from 2008 to 2015 with a slight increase the following year while the total KSI fell from 12,000 to 9,000.

Over a similar period drink driving cases fell from 72,127 in 2005 to 37,578 in 2015. 

Seems the roads are safer without traffic cops on them! 

Drink driving cases fell because there was hardly anyone on  the streets to enforce them. I might be wrong but austerity happened after 2010 over a staggered period.

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54 minutes ago, BlueBob said:

We could easily see a move towards a combined resource under one control /command, transition and increase of some roles and powers to the likes of HATO. Rebranding may be what happens, but using some staff from each area.  

It may not change, but, if we are to keep the SRN running smoothly, something has to change, including its policing.

HATOs are a good example of a half way measure being implemented that seemed to be common practice during the Labour Government, effectively PCSOs of the fast road networks with limited enforcement powers but have become highly visible on our motorways (you tend to see HATOs far more than traffic atleast where I am.) 

I'd argue HATOs have been far more successful than PCSOs as they serve a very important function. 

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