90 days from today is Mon, 21 December 2020
11 March 2020
The extra funding being ploughed into the police service presents an opportunity to raise the profile of roads policing.
That was the view of Deputy Chief Constable Terry Woods, the new police driver training lead on the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) who took part in a panel session on the role of roads policing officers on the first day of this year’s two-day Police Federation roads policing conference in Kenilworth at the end of January.
He emphasised that 2020 was a key year for roads policing, telling delegates from across England and Wales: “I think we have a real opportunity, with the uplift, to raise the profile of roads policing and to use this extra funding to get our agenda further."
Fellow panellist Dr Helen Wells from Keele University also supported his view, saying: “The tide really has turned. From my perspective, now is the time to push the academic agenda of roads policing - how fantastic would it be to enthuse criminology students to do their third-year project on roads policing?”
However, the opportunities presented by the uplift could also pose new problems according to Michael Collins from the College of Policing who was also on the panel. He highlighted the problem of accreditation given the intricate and specific specialties of roads policing that make it unsuitable for the Professionalising Investigative Process courses.
Simon Hill from the Police Federation added: “There is no single definition of what constitutes a roads policing officer. What is needed is a single definition with clear criteria that you can take to a force and ask, ‘do you have this?’ I think it’s important that there is some accreditation system that allows officers to gain recognition for their hard work and their dedication.”
Summing it up in response to a question about possible rewards for roads policing units and officers, Mr Collins said: “I think that most roads officers don’t want rewards. Rewards are for tomorrow. We want recognition.”
Earlier in the day, the NPCC roads policing lead, Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, told officers preventing loss of life should be the top priority of roads policing officers.
Mr Bangham warned that road fatalities had been falling in the first half of the last decade but had stabilised and begun to rise again, with 1,784 recorded in 2018 and figures for this year showing signs of following the upward trend. This equates to almost five deaths every day.
He said: “We need to ask questions about what we can do better if we are truly committed to reducing the totally unacceptable rate of deaths on our roads. Twice as many people die on our roads than through knife crime and yet you hear so much about that every day – you can pass through the papers and not read about the deaths on our roads. Something has to change.”
During the first day of conference, Derek Roberts from West Midlands Police gave an update on Operation Tutelage which is tackling uninsured drivers and is now used in 25 of the 43 forces across England and Wales.
Tim Rogers, West Midlands Police Federation deputy secretary and national Federation lead on police pursuits, gave an update on police driver training and a Federation award was presented to Sir Henry Bellingham who had championed changes to legislation to allow police drivers’ skills and training to be taken into account in law.