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Absent traffic police officers to hit DfT plans?

Motoring organisations have cast doubt on the government's plans to hit drivers with on the spot fines for certain minor offences. The Road Haulage Association, among others, have questioned how the plans will be implemented, pointing out that the number of traffic cops has been reduced by almost a quarter (23%) in five years.

Motoring organisations have cast doubt on the government's plans to hit drivers with on the spot fines for certain minor offences. The Road Haulage Association, among others, have questioned how the plans will be implemented, pointing out that the number of traffic cops has been reduced by almost a quarter (23%) in five years. The Department for Transport (DfT) last week announced plans to issue fines of up to £100 and three penalty points for offences such as hogging the middle lane on motorways, tailgating and cutting in on other motorists.

Home office minister, Damian Green, provided a written answer in the Commons showing that traffic police officers had been reduced from 6,229 in 2007 to 4,868 in 2012. Institute of Advanced Motorists spokesman, Kevin Delaney, pointed out: "The number of traffic police has fallen off a cliff. Ask yourself when was the last time you drove on a motorway and saw a police car on patrol rather than hurtling along the road. All the discussions we have been having about this are hypothetical because there aren't any police to enforce them. There is no real definition of tailgating or hogging the middle lane. In theory it is a good idea, but the devil is in the detail. What is going to be enforced and even more important who will be doing the enforcing?"

The Road Haulage Association added their doubts about the new plans, with a spokesperson saying: "There are concerns both amongst the public and professional motoring organisations about both who is actually left to enforce the new restrictions, following the drastic reduction in roads policing officers. We are also worried that freeing up court time could be interpreted as imposing further taxation on the motorist who already is seen as being treated as a cash cow."

An AA spokesperson joined the doubters, commenting: "There will be targeted blitzes, particularly on stretches of road where there is a perceived problem of people tailgating or using hand-held mobile phones. You can get a short sharp shock, but then you get back to normal levels of policing." The DfT, however, denied that policing numbers will hinder the proposals, with a spokesperson commenting: "These changes are being introduced following extensive consultation with police forces. It is for individual police forces to decide how they allocate their resources between roads policing and other areas. The fixed penalty is about providing police with a more efficient and flexible means of dealing with less serious cases of careless driving, that fall below the threshold of court action."
 

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