I noticed today in the Auto Express that some 160,000 British motorists have nine penalty points on their driving licences! Can't help thinking this is due to the proliferation of speed cameras across the Country and not down to 'Officious Traffic Officers' as some of the motoring media would have us believe. You can travel for mile upon mile these days and never even see a patrol car, let alone get pulled to be 'advised' about your driving. The resources once devoted to Road Policing have sadly declined somewhat in many forces and, I understand that some don't even have Traffic Departments any more. Why is this?
As usual the simple answer is probably money! A fully qualified Motor Patrol Officer, properly equipped is a substantial financial investment. Many Senior Officers would argue this is money that is better spent chasing government targets and, not many of these 'targets' are traffic related (contrary to popular belief). Yes, there is a Home Office Strategy for Road Policing and the document raves on about the virtues of ANPR, Gatso cameras etc. However, you have to read over half way through it to find, 'technology cannot wholly replace the police'. Unfortunately it appears to have done just that in a lot of respects, even the roads have their equivalent of the PCSO and 'cheap' policing in the form of the HATO! No prize for guessing where the government priorities are here then!
In the North Riding we have over 8,000 km of roads and some of the highest figures for Fatal & Serious road accidents in the country. Yes, there are many reasons for road collisions but I would hazard an educated guess that, a lack of traffic officers influencing driver behaviour may well be a contributing factor? It is strange that our road policing resources appear to have dwindled considerably over the years? So yes, the Home Office is right 'technology can't replace cops'. You should think about that next time you smile as you're captured on Gatso Camera, at least with the traditional 'jam sandwich' method there was often the opportunity for some advice or discretion and leeway! Click HERE for a selection of speeding excuses the police have heard once too often or try the Casualty Reduction Game with PC Bridge... Courtesy of Cambridgeshire Constabulary.