Budget cuts mean fewer traffic cops
The number of dedicated traffic officers is falling, as police chiefs assign fewer officers to the roads in an effort to work within tighter budgets.
A freedom of information request by the Daily Telegraph has shown that 20 police forces had fewer traffic officer numbers in May 2011 than they did in May 2010. In total, 35 forces nationwide provided figures.
Comparing May 2011 with May 2010, an overall traffic cop reduction of just over four percent was found.
It follows, then, that routine roadside police checking has declined – though it has done so at a disproportionally high rate.
Breath checking has dwindled by almost a quarter: 9,000 more drivers were breathalysed in May 2010 than were in May 2011.
Overall driving-related prosecutions have fallen too, down 3.6 percent. The cutting of fixed speed cameras is also blamed for the decrease.
Meanwhile, the number of serious or fatal road injuries increased during the first three months of 2011 – the first rise in four years.
The shadow cabinet has seized its opportunity following the release of the figures, with Labour transport spokesperson Maria Eagle saying: "Coming on top of the Tory-led government's decision to axe road safety funding and targets for reducing deaths and serious injuries, the cuts in front line officers available to tackle traffic offences will inevitably lead to reduced safety on Britain's roads".