Derbyshire Police Federation

'More investment needed in roads policing' says branch chair

12 February 2024

Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton says more investment is needed in roads policing to bring down the ‘shocking’ numbers of deaths on the UK’s roads.

Tony was speaking after the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) Roads Policing Seminar was told that five people were killed every day in road traffic collisions across the country.

The seminar heard that each fatal collision cost the economy £2 million, with the added emotional and psychological impact on victims’ families and friends, and on members attending the scene.

Tony said: “It is truly shocking that five people every single day are killed on the country’s roads - and something needs to change.

“If we had that many murders then there would be an outcry, but for some reason it’s almost accepted and it shouldn’t be like that.

“The visibility of Roads Policing Officers, or ‘traffic cops’ as the TV viewing public know them,  acts almost as a calming influence on drivers - we’ve all seen motorists modify their driving just by the presence of a police car on a motorway or on a road.



“But we need more officers to be out there, visible on the roads, to act as a deterrent, to catch those drivers that we want off our roads, and to bring down the truly awful numbers of deaths - and that needs funding and investment.”

The seminar was also told that new legislation which aims to give police drivers greater protection in law ‘risks failing to achieve its potential due to errant application’ by some chief officers.

Tim Rogers, the national Federation’s pursuits and driver training lead, described the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 as ‘a great bit of legislation’.

Tim, who is also secretary of West Midlands Police Federation, said it had the power ‘when correctly applied’ to give police drivers much better protection in law.

Addressing a discussion on the effectiveness of the new act, Tim warned that some chief officers have not familiarised themselves with their obligations in order for it to provide drivers with full protection.

“Put simply, it’s a case of comply or die,” he said.

The new legislation was introduced after a long-running campaign by the Federation.

“It was a perverse situation that saw officers being prosecuted for simply doing what they are trained and expected to do in keeping the elected government of the day’s public safe,” he said.

“I’m happy, and the Federation is happy with the new legislation, and we’re grateful to our partners in the Home Office, NPPC and those other supportive partners who helped us facilitate this change.”

It means an officer’s driving is now judged by the standard of their peers, in line with their skills and training. But, and it is a critical point to note, officers have to be licensed and up to date with their training and that training has to be delivered by fully accredited trainers working for a force that hold the appropriate training licence. They must deliver only the prescribed training as per Statutory Instrument 1112.

Tim said: “Our achievement in securing this generational reform for police driver legislation is being squandered by a small proportion of beneficiaries.

“You’re probably asking who would do that? Out of all the users, it’s sadly the police service.

“The issue sadly is with the police service thus chief officers, who are the main offenders. We’re far from satisfied with some who seem unable to familiarise themselves with their legal obligations.

“Their failure to effectively plan for the introduction of the new legislation and the chronic underinvestment in roads policing - even though in February last year for the first time this critical area of policing was included as a strategic policing requirement.

“We accept this underinvestment starts with central government.

“Some of the problems we’re seeing is that the prescribed training that is set out in the act is not being consistently applied.

Tim explained how he had 'worked really hard on the governance that sits behind the primary legislation', as he strongly added: "Forces must adhere to this. There's no wriggle room.

“Any deviation from the statutory instrument will leave your officers exposed, yet some chief officers seem unable to grasp this fact and it can’t be allowed to continue.

“Whether you’re a police driver, senior leader, a chief officer, you’ve got a duty to yourself, your staff, the public to get the best out of it - and it is a great bit of legislation. Correctly applied it should achieve its policy objectives.”

The debate heard from Jo Boxall-Hunt, subject matter expert from the College of Policing, who spoke about the licensing requirements under the new legislation.

Barrister Mark Aldred, from QEB Hollis Whiteman, who has worked closely with the Federation during its campaign for the new legislation, pointed out gaps in training and policy for situations where officers need to arrest fleeing suspects. He suggested updating policies to address these scenarios and encouraged experts to consider a broader perspective when evaluating cases.

Visit the Federation’s YouTube page to watch the available sessions.

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June 2024