Memorandum by the Metropolitan
Police Service (IT 169)
"A NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORT"
The Metropolitan Police Service prioritises
work according to the key objectives set by the Home Secretary.
Thus the priorities for 1998-99 relate to the fight against terrorism,
dealing more effectively and expeditiously with young offenders,
reducing the incidence of burglary and street crime, increasing
the number of arrests for drug offences linked with violent crime
or prevalent locations and lastly, providing an appropriate response
to emergency calls from the public. There is no direct mention
of targeted activity in respect of policing the capital's roads.
Road Policing Strategies
Whilst road policing is not an objective per
se, its importance to London is shown in the Metropolitan
Police Service's Traffic Policing Strategy which has two aims.
Firstly, to reduce crime and the opportunities for criminal activity
in relation to the use of London's roads and, secondly, to work
with others to reduce road collisions and to minimise the effects
of spontaneous congestion.
London's road policing strategy has similar
aims to that of the national approach as agreed by the ACPO (Traffic)
committee. This strategy has as its aim "To secure an environment
where the individual can use the roads with confidence, free from
death, injury, damage or fear".
Overarching aims and objectives for 1999-2000
For the next planning year, the Home Office
has given the Police Service a series of overarching aims and
objectives, some of which link into the strategies mentioned previously.
These objectives also contain some of the themes mentioned in
the "New Deal for Transport".
There will now be a specific objective of "contribute
to improving road safety and the reduction of casualties"
which will assist to achieve the aims of "promote safety
and reduce disorder" and "reduce crime and the fear
This objective will build upon the target set
by Government in 1987 to reduce all casualties by one third by
the year 2000 in comparison with the average level of road casualties
for the years 1981-85.
Statistics recently released by the London Research
Centre in its annual accident report for London show a 1.5 per
cent rise in all casualtiesa total of 46,015 for 1997 compared
with 45,324 for 1996. These increases are less than the figures
for Great Britain as a whole, where collisions increased by 1.7
per cent and casualties by 2.3 per cent.
Despite this increase, by the end of 1997, the
total number of casualties within Greater London was 14.9 per
cent lower than the base figurethe average annual number
of casualties for the period 1981 to 1985. It is also a much greater
improvement than that recorded in Great Britain as a whole over
the same period where there was an increase of 2 per cent. However
the target reduction was intended to be in the region of 33 per
Enforcement activitythe work of the patrolling
It is anticipated that casualty reduction, which
is mentioned in the white paper, will be featured in the MPS policing
plan for 1999-2000. However other DETR objectives which require
police involvement are not specifically covered in the Home Office's
aims and objectives. These include better enforcement of bus lanes
to improve the speed of public transport, measures to reduce congestion
and better policing of badly maintained vehicles which contribute
to air pollution through defective exhausts.
Whilst these issues are not priorities for the
police, enforcement activity by patrolling officers does take
place and has an impact. In 1997 126,990 "driver reported"
fixed penalty notices were issued, of which 74,717 were for endorsable
offences. London's courts dealt with 124,878 people prosecuted
for summary monitoring offences in 1997.
Enforcement activityuse of technology
This enforcement activity is complemented by
other measures. Road side cameras are proving an effective method
of detecting speeding, red light and now bus lanes offences. The
Government wants to see an extension of the use of this technology
to reduce speed, save lives and improve the environment.
It is generally accepted that for cameras to
constitute an effective deterrent about one in eight sites need
to be "live" at any one time. The level within London
is presently about one in 20. At present the MPS processes 68,000
cases a year from 550 camera sites. To achieve the one in eight
level we would need to process about 300,000 cases per year. The
Service is computerising the cost of processing these cases and
once complete the average cost per case will be £20.
The process of speeding offences is not a mandated
policing priority for allocation of resources, and has been severely
constrained by financial and staffing limitations. If an "Administrative
Charge" could be imposed in each case dealt with by a fixed
penalty ticket, to recover prosecution costs, this would significantly
assist achievement of the goal of processing 300,000 cases per
year. This proposal, which has been submitted to Home Office
for consideration, would reflect the award of costs at court,
which can be ordered when a magistrate convicts an offender. It
also follows the principle that the costs of prosecution should
be levied against the guilty party (c.f. "the polluter pays"),
rather than borne wholly by the entire community. Savings could
also be made if legislation permitted a civilian police employee
to authorise prosecution in a case which is to be dealt with by
a fixed penalty notice, rather than a police officer as required
Use of cameras to control congestion
Cameras are also being used to control congestion
by maximising the use of the available road space. Thus on the
M25 there are cameras on gantries which monitor adherence to the
variable speed limits. Police are not funded to deal with such
traffic management matters. It is outside our core functions of
protecting life and property on the roads. Again we would wish
to see some reimbursement of the costs incurred in prosecuting
offending motorists who are detected by the cameras, through the
addition of an Administrative Charge.
Administrative charge for assisting other agencies
As well as an administrative charge to recover
the cost of enforcing offences through the use of cameras, we
would also wish to see similar reimbursement of the cost of using
an officer to assist other agencies undertake their enforcement
duties. An example is emission controls. This environmental
issue is outside the core functions of policing the capital. Police
presence at these roadside checks merely to stop a vehicle means
one less officer available for patrolling London's streets.
Partnership with other agencies
A number of agencies regularly request police
assistance to stop vehicles in order that they may exercise their
legal authority to make inspections etc. To make the most efficient
use of resources, it is now police practice to organise large-scale
"multi agency" checks such as Operation Mermaid. This
is a nation-wide initiative aimed at enforcing goods vehicles
legislation. Since it started in 1995, 4,697 such vehicles have
been stopped in London. This has led to 44 arrests, 391 immediate
prohibition notices being issued, and 953 offences relating to
driver hours or the condition of the vehicle being detected.
Such large-scale checks take much planning and
are very resource intensive. The use of police officers merely
to stop vehicles at small localised checks such as those for pollution
monitoring has already been mentioned. This function could
be carried out more cost effectively by civilian enforcement staff,
for example Traffic Wardens, working under direct police control.
Use of the power to stop vehicles
We are aware that consideration has been given
to allowing other agencies to exercise the power to stop moving
vehicles. It is the police contention that this power should always
be exercised under direct police control.
If other agencies were to be given this power
without this control it would give rise to much concern and alarm
amongst the public. Which agencies would qualify to be given this
power, how would they be identified, under what circumstances
should it be used, and what powers would they have to take action
against a motorist who refused to stop? Where public accountability
is less defined than for police officers, what safeguards would
be introduced to prevent abuse of this power, and ensure that
a civilian stopping his/her car does not breach an individual's
civil liberties? For these very compelling reasons Police do
not support the power to stop vehicles being given to other bodies.
Use of traffic wardens to stop vehicles
Police strongly support the granting of this
power to stop vehicles to police traffic wardens. They are
Metropolitan Police employees and are a conspicuous presence on
London's Red Route Network. Giving the Warden Service this additional
power would enable them to enforce bus lanes and box junctions
which would assist in keeping London's traffic and public transport
moving. Given the power to stop, the wardens could replace
police officers at the site of the agency checks which would perhaps
increase the frequency and effectiveness of these forms of enforcement,
releasing officers for more crime orientated patrolling.
Enforcement of waiting and parking restrictions
Wardens are working in conjunction with local
authority parking attendants in tackling congestion albeit in
different ways i.e., through the application of civil or criminal
law. If roads which are currently decriminalised are re-instated
within London's Strategic Route Network, police will require the
necessary powers to enforce the relevant regulations. This will
be achieved most simply and conveniently by returning the offences
to criminal law, thus ensuring consistent enforcement across the
Strategic Road Network. Any combination of criminal and civil
enforcement action would impose unnecessary additional training
demands and more complex administrative procedures, and create
anomalies which would confuse the public. In any event Police
will be seeking the removal of the need for a police officer to
have to lay an information before a summons for an offence is
Better harmonisation of enforcement activity
by police, traffic wardens and local authority parking attendants
has a greater impact and produces more consistent enforcement.
As well as affecting levels of congestion it could also provide
increased information and intelligence flows, thus assisting in
reducing crime and the opportunities for criminal activity within
Management of congestion
Police officers and traffic wardens will take
action in respect of spontaneous congestion in so far as it impacts
upon road safety. Long term congestion issues such as that currently
experienced by the closure of the Rotherhithe tunnel are not primarily
a policing matter.
We support the creation of a strategy for
London aimed at reducing long term congestion. This could be achieved
through the establishment of a forum comprising of representatives
from London Buses, the Association of London Government, the Parking
and Traffic Director for London as well as the Metropolitan Police
and other interested parties. As well as tackling the issue
of congestion it could also examine other strategic transport
We would welcome the promotion and greater
use of the river Thames for transportation, tourism and leisure.
The MPS would wish to join with the Port of London authority and
London Rivers Authority in a forum to support this aspiration.
Policing of road freight transport
To minimise congestion and inconvenience to
the motorists, police escort abnormal loads. In 1997 traffic officers
in London escorted 1,452 such convoys. Each require a minimum
of three officers. The need to devote this amount of resources
to assist a load to reach its destination has been the subject
of much debate between ACPO (Traffic) and the Home Office. A proposal
currently being considered is that suitably trained and qualified
private escorts would be required to accompany loads of limited
dimensions on motorways and their linking dual carriageways.
This would reduce some of the burden upon police officers but
there will still be a need to escort abnormal loads through London
once they have left the motorway.
The escorting of these vehicles requires the
use of trained officers. The abstraction of traffic officers
from normal duties to provide escorts for exceptional abnormal
loads would be minimised if the cost of the escort could be attributed
directly to the hauliers. The MPS will be exploring this option.
The policing of the bus and lorry legislation
requires a high degree of specialism. Dedicated units across London
have been established which concentrate on goods and passenger
vehicles. There is a close working relationship with both the
Traffic Commissioners and the Vehicle Inspectorate. Using the
unit based in east London as an example, in 1997 they compiled
22 company reports for the Traffic Commissioners which led to
nine public enquiries against prospective operators. Other work
included 120 company visits to check on the roadworthiness of
an operators fleet as well as surveillance operations.
24 hour Response and Traffic Portfolio
18 November 1998