Memorandum by the Metropolitan Police
Service (RTS 154)
Thank you for the letter dated 5 March 2002.
I have been asked by the Commissioner to respond as I have responsibility
for London's Traffic Police and Traffic Wardens.
As you are aware the Metropolitan Police take
London and Londoners' safety very seriously; indeed our vision
is to make London the safest major city in the World.
But with limited resources choices have to be
made about operational deployment.
Taking each of your points in turn.
Given an ever rising tide of often violent street
crime an operation "Safer Streets" was initiated to
reduce crime and the fear of crime.
The Commissioner sought to employ as many officers
from centrally held units, such as traffic police, to support
Ultimately some 500 officers were employed from
these units, 250 were from my command. This left over 350 officers
back at their bases, a) to investigate fatal collisions, b) to
offer support and advice to borough colleagues, c) to respond
to motorways where the working environment is highly dangerous
without the appropriate training and experience.
The Safer Streets operation is to run eight
weeks and will end on 31 March 2002. All traffic officers will
then return to their bases and resume their usual role.
To date the operation has reduced street crime
on the nine London boroughs worst affected by an average 15 per
cent with a 38 per cent reduction in Lambeth in one week.
Please be assured therefore that this is a temporary
response to a difficult situation and it will be business as normal
for all traffic officers from 1 April 2002.
I cannot say if more or less people will be
involved in collisions, or what the outcome of these collisions
maybe. I have ordered a review to be undertaken of this matter
at the conclusion of the operation to assess the impact. However,
it may be useful to note that the collision hotspots on many boroughs
are the same as those for crime and the presence of so many police
providing visible re-assurance and pro-activity against crime
has contributed to influencing driver behaviour locally.
ACFO provides guidance on all policing issues,
however, it is for Chief Officers locally to decide how to deploy
their officers and against what targets. The campaign to reduce
street crime is seen as an overriding priority, which has allocated
a short-term response involving many officers, some from my command.
Turning to the issue of speed. Speed is a major
determinant in the severity of injury in all collisions. Speeding
is an offence against which the Traffic command has a number of
tactical options, these include safety cameras.
All of my existing sites for cameras have been
re-surveyed to see if they are still relevant. All future deployments
will be based on need, ie where there are collision occuring,
do they have a "speed" component? Increasing the number
of sites may not be necessary but I must assess this once I have
established where my priority locations are and the affects of
my current deployment.
I am greatly concerned by the number of un-registered
vehicles that are said to exist in London. It is thought that
between 600,000 and 1.2 million vehicles are not registered. Therefore
technological enforcement through cameras, which is reliant on
linking the driver with the vehicle through registration, becomes
We are working with ministers, DVLA and the
ABI to ensure our system, enforcement and future reflect if not
solutions, the plans to overcome this real problem.
Finally, should we create a seperate Traffic
Police? I do not think this would ultimately benefit the public.
We are constantly involved in joint working, whether that is with
internal or external partners. There are real benefits to this
approach, especially when resources are over burdened. Isolating
officers into exclusive areas of activity does lead to stagnation
I believe we are best served as we are.
I hope that this response meets your needs.
I would welcome any further questions you have and as I am based
at Cannon Row Police station would be happy to walk along the
road to the House if you wished a verbal update.
A/Chief Superintendent David Finnimore
Traffic OCU Headquarters
15 March 2002