19 January 2022
Derbyshire Police Federation says a BBC documentary highlighting the deadly consequences of fewer roads policing officers should be heeded.
Chair Tony Wetton reacted to the findings of a Panorama investigation, broadcast on Monday, which found that roads in England and Wales are more dangerous than they were a decade ago.
He said: “We know that vehicles are safer today than they have ever been and yet there’s a feeling that our roads are becoming less safe. The reason should be fairly obvious – it’s the result of years of underfunding of roads policing, and now the chickens have come home to roost.”
Tony added that the programme’s claim that “weaker policing” was to blame for the trend was offensive to hard working and dedicated police officers. The root of the problem was the damage done by scaling back essential resources during austerity.
In 2020, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) revealed that there had been a 34 per cent real terms reduction in spending in England and Wales during 2013 to 2019, this was worth about £120 million.
And between 2015 and 2018, an average of 1,610 people lost their lives each year while many more were seriously injured, the report found.
The number of people killed on the roads each year remained stable between 2010 and 2019, after going down for three decades.
Tony’s call for the BBC investigation and the inspectorate’s report to be a “wake-up call” for the Government was echoed by Gemma Fox, roads policing lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales.
She said: “This accusation that so-called ‘weaker’ policing is responsible for roads being perceived as riskier is an insult to the professionalism of our colleagues. The reality is the number of specialist officers has rapidly declined in recent years alongside a marked reduction in resources.”