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The traffic cop debate

January 22, 2007
I’ve long been of the opinion that the increase in speed cameras, inversely proportional to the decrease in traffic officers, has not had the desired effect on road safety that the government intended.

I’m not the only one to share this view and it seems that members of the public are concerned as well.

One worried motorist has written to his local paper to express his view.

No substitute for traffic officers

The Express & Star editorial comment which put forward suggestions regarding the tragic deaths of young motorists was excellent. However, the problem in the United Kingdom is that we have a government which believes the answer to every crisis or problem is more legislation.Increasing legal powers and the rule of law are fine, if you have a credible method of enforcement.

In the case of road traffic, the statute book is overflowing with enforceable law; the problem is that chief officers of police, for a variety of reasons, have virtually eradicated or reduced traffic policing to what can now be best described as an ad hoc strategy.

That is not a criticism of those on the ground left with the job, but directed at those at the top who make policy and budget decisions.

Policing of our motorway network has been virtually replaced by Highways Agency traffic officers, who have little more power than Joe Public. They do a first-class job in terms of what they are trained to do but the boy racer, white van maniac or HGV driver (see if I can nudge your bumper) are fully aware of their enforcement limitations.

I do not accept the argument put forward, that what is left of the “real” motorway police concentrates on the travelling criminal.

This concept, similar to technological enforcement, is a cost-cutting exercise, and if we are discussing travelling criminals, surely an aggressive or reckless driver who kills or maims on the road fits the bill adequately.

There is no substitute for a high-profile, visible presence in any form of policing and that includes the enforcement and advising of driving standards on our roads.

It cannot be acceptable that I can drive on the M5 from Oldbury to Exeter, and then on A roads to Cornwall, and not see one liveried police vehicle.

Barry A Mason, Bullmeadow Lane, Wombourne.

Thank you Mr Mason – I couldn’t have put it better myself.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    January 22, 2007 20:42

    I’m a HATO and i haven’t seen any decrease in Motorway Police. they do seem to be doing more paperwork these days however.

  2. Stan Still permalink
    January 22, 2007 22:07

    That’s because the demise in numbers started long before HATOs came into being.

  3. PC South West permalink
    January 22, 2007 22:11

    No detections in traffic offences!
    cameras don’t catch drunk divers, disqualified drivers or cars full of shits that use our motorways to transport their drugs and stolen gear.
    We used to have more traffic officers who would stop the scum that would be using the roads all the time.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    January 23, 2007 14:06

    I had an attachment with the Met’s NE traffic garage. They had 4 cars covering all of NE london. 4. One car is dedicated to the blackwall tunnels. One is dedicated to tasking. One covers the motorway from the A10 to the dartford bridge. One is “spare” and if they’re lucky might get to do some enforcement. 4 cars for the whole of northwest london! Absolutely bonkers

  5. PCFrankyFact permalink
    January 24, 2007 14:18

    Hey South West.
    Wouldn’t drunk divers come under the remit of either the river police unit or the underwater search unit?
    Is it an offence to dive whilst drunk?
    Better not tell the wife.

  6. PC South West permalink
    January 24, 2007 18:43

    Yes diving is a very dangerous thing to do while drunk. In more ways than one!!

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