Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

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 the operation.

  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 worthless.

  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 and "de-skilling".

  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

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