Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum by the Association of Chief Police Officers (IT 168A)


  I refer to your letter of 11 January requesting additional information on force expenditure on traffic policing following my oral evidence to the Committee on the above topic. May I thank you for the additional response time.

  I have consulted my chief constable colleagues and have obtained sufficient information to be able to expand in general terms on the level of traffic resources, but regrettably nationally there is no standard way that the information is collated which will enable me to be specific. Despite the introduction of costed policing plans no force singles out the pure traffic element of their deployments.

  Despite these constraints I am able to comment on the overall trends of expenditure over the last five years for traffic policing and make an assessment of how various force operational applications have effected traffic manpower.

  From an analysis of force plans, in the majority of instances the budget allocation to specific traffic policing in real terms has fallen over the last five years. In strict financial costs the budget reductions have not been substantial (say between £0.5 million to £1.5 million) and a number of forces have kept their cash budgets roughly the same. However, as overall force budgets have increased, the percentage spent on traffic has decreased with no account being taken of the effects of inflation, which with an average of 3-3.5 per cent per annum could represent a real fall in traffic budgets of 15 per cent with a potential fall in some forces of up to 25 per cent over the five year period.

  A small number of forces have increased expenditure slightly, especially over the last two years, and this may be as a result of chief officers responding to expressed concerns. However, bearing in mind my comments above, these increases have generally been small and their true effect marginal. I am unable to confirm whether this financial increase has enabled more traffic officers to be deployed.

  In manpower terms, the trend again indicates stagnation or a fall in overall numbers, some substantially, especially when set against force potential growth. Some forces counter this point in identifying that the fall in officers has been offset by an improvement in operational/patrol equipment or an increased budget commitment to enforcement technology (cameras), an argument that you may consider supports my Committee's continued call for an administrative charge. It is also clear in one case that a considerable drop in manpower had occurred prior to the five year period.

  I am conscious of the financial decisions my chief constable colleagues have to make and it is fair to state that many responses highlighted a "leaner and fitter" dedicated traffic staffing level within an overall road policing strategy which incorporated other resource geographically deployed, i.e., at the BCU level. However, I am still concerned that the full benefits of dedicated traffic police officers may not be fully appreciated, particularly in terms of "spend to save" policies, where the potential to increase road safety and reduce road crime could impact on the casualty toll with consequential savings elsewhere, e.g., National Health Service.

Paul Manning
Chairman, Traffic Committee

5 February 1999

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