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
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.
Chairman, Traffic Committee
5 February 1999