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Surrey Police Federation

Road safety being compromised by cut in road police officers, says PFEW

7 February 2019

Driving on roads in England and Wales is not as safe as it should be – because the number of road police officers is dwindling due to Government cuts.

That’s the dire warning from PFEW Lead for Roads Policing Dave Blundell, who says criminality on our road networks is beginning to fill the gap left by the reduction in officer numbers.

It could even lead to more drug and drink driving incidents while deaths on the roads are rising, he said.

Cuts have seen an 11% reduction in roads policing units over the past two years, but the service has suffered from a squeeze on resources since 2009.

“The number of officers has continued to go down and it’s an awfully lot lower than they originally thought,” he said.

“The Home Office said we had 4,800 roads policing officers in 2018.

“When I went to the Federation Branch Board and said, ‘How many have you really got? This is what the Home Office say’, overall the number that they returned was actually 30% lower than that.

“There are so few roads policing officers left because they’re being taken away to do other duties and work in other areas.

“What it means is the roads are becoming less safe and criminality will readily take over the ground that’s vacated by the police,” he said.

“We know that the number of breath tests has gone down because there’s fewer officers. Does that mean that there are now more drunk drivers? Are there going to be more instances where drivers are going to be hit by drunk or drug drivers?”

The number of road deaths was in steady decline until 2011 after which time it levelled out, Dave added.

Now the number of deaths recorded has risen – all of which coincides with a drop in police activity on the road network and a reduction in officer numbers.

More officers would mean safer roads, Dave said.

“We need a transfusion of roads policing officers back into roads policing, like any other community.

“It’s vital our roads are kept safe and to do that we need more roads policing officers to ensure the road network is kept clear and safe, and to advice members of the public.

“We’re here to guide, protect, assist and help the public. How many times do people think they [officers] are never around when you need them – it’s about the numbers.”

Speaking at the PFEW National Roads Policing Conference in Leicestershire, Dave has also backed calls by the Federation to offer better protection in law to police pursuit and response drivers and to reduce the stress and worry that they might be prosecuted for just doing their jobs.

“Please, please back us up and give us the protection that we need to protect the public,” he said.

“I think the IOPC are acutely aware of it [the stress officers are under].

“I cannot believe that they don’t know about it. I think they will maintain their position that they are the IOPC and they are independent, and I don’t think the necessary sympathy for any officers involved with this is something that factors into their thinking.

“I’m dumbfounded that an organisation with as many people as the IOPC could not find one single person to attend the conference and at least explain their point of view.”