29 January 2019
Putting police officers back on the roads in significant numbers is essential for saving lives, the country’s top roads policing officer has said.
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), set out his vision for the UK having the “safest roads in the world” at our national Roads Policing Conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire, today.
He told an audience of roads policing officers and stakeholders that five preventable deaths occur on the nation’s road network every day. Those figures have reduced from 2,946 in 2007 to 1,1793 a decade later, but since 2011 they have started to plateau. Mr Bangham said: “Working together, we want safe, secure and efficient roads. Police officers play a vital role in disrupting criminality and reducing death and serious injury on our network.
“If we look at the data, it shows a 39% reduction in deaths since 2007. But from 2011 onwards, you start to see a flattening out. After many years of decline, you can see for yourselves that all the signs are that this is going to get worse, it is getting worse and if we don’t address the problem, we are going to see all those declines reversed.”
Mr Bangham said it was unfortunate that Transport Minister Jesse Norman had been unable to address the conference in person, instead sending a video message, as the Government needed to heed his warnings if they are serious about reducing road fatalities.
There are now 20,000 fewer police officers than a decade ago and fewer dedicated roads policing officers, he said. Turning to his own West Mercia force, the Chief Constable said there had been 53 road deaths and 15 homicides in 2018, but the latter are more likely to receive media coverage.
Mr Bangham told delegates that his focus for 2019 will be to work towards the goal of safer roads, safer speeds, safer road users and vehicles and post-crash response. He will also be seeking to encourage more forces to prioritise roads policing and to join him in calling for the investment that is starting to happen, to filter through to roads policing.
The Chief Constable was asked about the length of time of investigations by the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC), with some officers spending years with their lives on hold. Mr Bangham said he worries about this and lengthy investigations are no good for officers or the public.
He also paid tribute to roads policing officers for the “tough, complex, traumatic and dangerous” job they do: "Sadly it's often seen as a thankless task".
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