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Traffic officers work from operational bases known as Traffic garages. The unit has over 680 officers based at six Traffic garages across London – SE, NE, NW, SW (two garages) and Central. Every garage patrols the boroughs within its area and addresses the particular road safety issues affecting the communities it serves by working closely with residents, local authorities and other partner agencies within the area.
Through a co-ordinated approach of education and enforcement, and by working together with partner agencies and communities within London, the number of people killed and seriously injured on the Capital’s roads can be reduced (taken from www.met.police.uk/traffic)

Without enforcement much of the new legislation organised to tackle and diminish road casualties is paper weight.

In 1997 there were in London, over 1000 traffic police officers.  If the figure is now at 680 or so, with only 122 deployed to road death investigation, it is dispiriting given that road crashes produce twice as many killed as murdered, in London alone. 

The Transport Committee also recognised some time back that it is actually no longer possible to say with any degree of certainty how many traffic officers are engaged, nationally, in road traffic policing, and what their full responsibilities are.  Is road policing still treated as a secondary or additional duty of police officers engaged in other activities?

Improved and evolving technology (cameras and ANPR) cannot itself replace the value of specialist officers on the ground to catch the wilfully dangerous and potentially lethal drivers, those on mobile phones, those high on drink and drugs, the uninsured and unlicensed.

If Government is taking on board, as it says it is (Road Safety Debate, 4/6/2009), what police forces have been saying over years that road traffic policing more often than not leads to arrests for other very serious offences powered on four wheels, including drugs trafficking, money laundering and gun possession, surely this would be reason enough to pump up the numbers of the road traffic police and to fund them into preemptive strategies as well as enforcement.

Roads policing needs to be a Government priority. Do we know any other sector of crime that can clock up thoiusands of dead and injured annually that would not secure priority focus in the national policing plan?

Road deaths are not petty crimes.  They are homicides.  One life annihilated generations lost. Ours, yours. Our road traffic police officers are not divorced cousins of another police service.  They are front liners in the same service.  They tackle homicide.  Yet the Road Traffic Police are still poorly resourced when it is said they are crucial to the vision not only to improve road safety by any given target, but to herald best practice worldwide.  You can’t have best on the cheap.

Budgets and Cameras

The complaint by some against speed cameras is ingrained in the notion that it catches the law abiding and competent drivers, a few miles over the speed limit, and that being lumped in with the excessively dangerous speeders, and having to pay for it, is just not cricket.

The fact is that cameras here and abroad have been proven to save lives. Readers looking for the stats can look up road safety sites, the DfT, itself.

Oxfordshire recently switched off its cameras and in some spots casualties have risen. Perhaps the rationale is that we need the settling in period of change, give or take a few lives.

Fixed cameras began to be placed where 4/5 deaths or injuries had occurred. The cash cost of each road fatality is over £1.9M (DfT, AA, Times Archive). The health and stability cost per family enmeshed in tragedy caused by another’s excessive risk-taking driving, is incalculable. No-one can possibly comprehend the dysfunction a road death or serious injury brings to a family unless such violent and sudden loss and the state’s aftermath process and interference in erstwhile privacy, has been experienced.

40% cut to the nation’s road safety without proposing alternative proven road safety tools or measures, leaving councils alone to shoulder blame for rises in casualties where bad decisions are taken, is cynical, and, in the context of the nation’s certain thousands of road fatalities and injuries, this coalition government’s didacticism on social justice, “birth and destiny” is stomach churning.

Following Livia’s death in 1998, we criticised Enfield Council heavily for not having a structured road safety plan causing Enfield to have one of the worst casualty records of all boroughs. Whilst it has made vast improvements and brought in effective road safety education to its schools to encourage early driver responsibility, Safe Drive Stay Alive, amongst others, we hope it will not be tempted into back-pedalling.

David Burrowes, our MP, has, to date, been balanced in his support of local road safety; has worked cross party. We hope that he, too, will continue to urge our council not to switch off cameras where they have had reason to be erected – where 4/5 lives and the inevitable ruin have marked the spot - and that he will carry a message to parliament, to Philip Hammond and Mike Penning, that headline grabbing hype shortly after taking seat without consulting comprehensive road safety expertise, encourages disobedience to deterrents, of which a speed camera is but a tool; injures the discipline, responsibility and higher standards drivers have needed to have taken on board to protect the very fragile freedoms that we all cherish and to which we all have an equal right and aspire; above all, the right and aspiration to try to avoid becoming driver fodder.


Road Death Investigation Manual

Policing of Roads

 

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