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Reductions in the numbers of specialist officers could alter the mindset of drivers for the worse, warns Fed official.
Cuts to roads policing units could be a catalyst to change the mindset of motorists and promote a new culture of offending, according to a senior Federation official.
In an interview with PoliceOracle.com Steve White – Secretary of the staff association’s Roads Policing Group – accepted that chief constables and police and crime commissioners would face tough choices in the wake of budget reductions.
But he warned that casualty figures, which had been on the decline for years, were now on the increase again and suggested there could be worse to come as officer numbers declined.
Mr White was also concerned that the specialist skills of roads policing professionals needed to be preserved despite the fiscal challenges facing the service.
Speaking at the Fed’s Leatherhead HQ Mr White added: “There is no doubt that chief constables and police and crime commissioners have difficult choices.
“But sounding a cautionary note, it is worth pointing out that the numbers of road deaths and accidents has now stopped falling and we really do not want to see the figures to return to the same rate they were at five years ago.”
While Mr White was keen to point out that there was not a proven correlation between the numbers of roads policing officers and RTC deaths he suggested that law enforcement helped keep poor attitudes in check.
As reported on PoliceOracle.com, numbers of people killed in collisions rose 3 per cent in 2011 compared with the previous year – from 1,850 to 1,901.
Statistics from the Department for Transport also showed a 2 per cent hike in the number of casualties seriously injured, from 24,510 in 2010 to 25,023 last year.
Mr White said: “The process of roads policing involves getting into the mindset of a driver.
“Unchecked a mindset will change over time – drivers get to know patterns. In some areas there are fewer officers and safety camera partnerships have been culled.”
Mr White accepted that the budget situation presented a huge challenge – and pointed out that reductions made in forces were now beginning to take effect.
The Fed official was speaking ahead of the second Fed and ACPO Roads Policing Conference, which will be held at the Barcelo Hinckley Island Hotel, Leicestershire, from January 18-19 next year.
Under the theme ‘Neighbourhoods to Networks’, the event will see a raft of issues discussed, including the tough financial situation faced by forces.
Speakers will include representatives of government and officers of all ranks.
Roads Policing Conference 2013
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Roads Policing - Caution Needed Over Cuts
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