Memorandum by Transport for London (TLE
TRAFFIC LAW AND ITS ENFORCEMENT
1.1 Transport for London (TfL) is the Mayor
of London's strategic traffic and transport authority with responsibility
for providing public transport services and infrastructure across
1.2 TfL is responsible for the 580 km strategic
road network (that accounts for 5% of London's roads, but carries
33% of its traffic) and has broader traffic management responsibilities,
which it delivers through the London Traffic Control Centre (LTCC).
It is worth noting that the remainder of the London road network
is managed by 33 individual Boroughsresulting in significant
local variations in management and enforcement.
1.3 The effective management of London's
roads is critical to delivering both the Mayor's Transport Strategy
and London's contribution to the Government's 10 Year Transport
1.4 TfL's objectives for the road network
are as follows:
to ensure the safety of all road
to enable efficient movement of people
and goods; and
to reduce and ease congestion and
minimise the environmental impact of mobility.
1.5 Consistent traffic laws and their effective
enforcement are critical to the continued successful management
of London's roads. With the high levels of traffic in the Capital,
robust enforcement is essential to road safety and maximising
the capacity of the existing infrastructure.
1.6 TfL welcomes the Transport Committee's
inquiry into traffic law and enforcement. In this submission we
have focused on the Committee's following key themes:
do police and enforcement agencies
have the right priorities?
the impact of uninsured, unlicensed
and banned drivers on traffic enforcement;
dealing with dangerous drivers; and
addressing the enforcement needs
of pedestrians and cyclists.
2.1 The Government's proposal to transfer
some motorway policing functions to the Highways Agency is important
in the wider context of transport policing. This move is consistent
with the national trend towards decriminalising parking and traffic
offences and civilianising enforcement. It is worth noting that,
in London, the Boroughs decriminalised their parking enforcement
in 1994. Since then most Boroughs have adopted a combination of
parking attendant and camera-based enforcement of parking restrictions
which, in some high profile cases, generates significant revenue.
2.2 TfL's focus is on ensuring effective
compliance with traffic and parking regulations. In our experience,
there is scope for some decriminalisation of certain offences
such as parkingbut only in the context of enabling the
police to focus on those areas of traffic enforcement where their
presence makes a greater impact; for example in enforcing driving
standards. In London we have addressed this through building robust
partnerships with the police which focus TfL and police resources
on joint transport and policing objectives.
2.3 There is a danger that in removing some
of their functions, the police become detached from their important
traffic enforcement role. It would be short-sighted if police
involvement on the major road network was restricted to handling
the aftermath of major accidents. Further, we would advise the
Committee that civilian enforcement provides for authorities to
retain any income from fines. This helps to cover enforcement
costs and reduces or removes further demands on council taxpayers.
However, care must be taken to ensure authorities aim to achieve
high levels of compliance rather than maximising fine income.
3. Do the police and other enforcement agencies
have the right priorities?
3.1 In London, TfL and the Metropolitan
Police have worked closely together to deliver a coherent approach
to the enforcement of traffic law, parking regulations and congestion
3.2 This is based on our experience that
drivers who regularly flout traffic laws are also more likely
to ignore other laws and be involved in committing criminal acts.
TfL and the Metropolitan Police have identified significant correlations
between accidents, traffic congestion and street crime.
Having a policing presence and the ability to stop and question
traffic offenders enables the police to gather intelligence and
indeed often apprehend individuals wanted for other offences.
3.3 This joint approach is best demonstrated
by the Metropolitan Police Transport Operational Command Unit
(TOCU) which is responsible for transport policing under a Police
Special Services Agreement with TfL. Established in June 2002,
TOCU has approximately 600 officers (both Police Officers and
Transport Police Community Support Officers (TPCSOs)) deployed
around transport enforcement, congestion reduction and tackling
crime and disorder objectives. TOCU's work is underpinned by shared
intelligence and integrated deployment via a joint MPS/TfL control
3.4 In July 2003, TOCU made 299 arrests,
issued 9,100 tickets, removed 245 illegally parked vehicles and
impounded a further 34 vehicles. In doing so, there are early
indications that it is making an impact on crime as well as traffic
and bus flow at key locations.
3.5 TfL are also actively engaged with the
Metropolitan Police and City of London Police in the London Safety
Camera Partnership (LSCP). Established as part of a wider Department
for Transport programme, the LSCP has concentrated its efforts
on high casualty locations that can be addressed using camera
enforcement. During the first nine months of operation, the numbers
of those killed and seriously injured around camera sites reduced
4.1 TfL and the Metropolitan Police are
developing proposals for the long term enforcement of the Transport
for London Road Network (TLRN), which is currently enforced by
390 police traffic wardens issuing Fixed Penalty Notices to the
driver of the vehicle (who is liable for payment). If unpaid,
the matter can be referred to a Magistrates Court where a fine
can be imposed. Historically, collection rates are fairly low
and the system relies on an already over-burdened Magistrates
4.2 Under the civil system (as used by the
Boroughs for parking enforcement and TfL for both congestion charging
and bus lane enforcement) Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs) are issued
to registered owners of vehicles. An independent appeals system
eliminates the need for the courts to be involved, and the highway
authority retains all income. Collection rates tend to be higher
than for the criminal process.
4.3 TfL is examining whether a move to the
civil process would enable better enforcement of the TLRN. This
would ensure that TfL takes full responsibility and accountability
for enforcement alongside the existing traffic management role.
However, both organisations are keen to retain police involvement
in delivering the visible, uniformed enforcement service.
4.4 Building on the existing TOCU partnerships,
one option would see the police continue delivering an enhanced
"traffic warden" service under the civil process. Such
a move would ensure that a coherent enforcement strategy can be
implemented which aligns effective traffic management with a visible
policing presence that can deploy rapidly to planned and unplanned
4.5 There are a range of benefits to this
partnership approach, including:
continued focus on compliance with
traffic and parking regulations;
combined range of enforcement tactics
to deliver compliance linked to wider community benefits;
visible, uniformed police "family"
presence which can intervene in wider traffic, congestion and
public order situations;
use of the simpler PCN process which
generally results in higher judicial disposal rates;
PCN revenue stream enables further
investment in police resources to supplement those focused on
traffic and parking enforcement; and
clearer, transparent public accountability
with all aspects of strategic road network management residing
with one authority.
5. THE IMPACT
5.1 Uninsured and unlicensed driversand
unregistered vehiclesaccount for a significant share of
traffic offences. There are also indications that persistent offenders
are more likely to be engaged in other forms of criminal activityTfL
will be undertaking more research in this area over the next few
months. Further, around 10% of pedestrian casualties arise from
hit and run incidentswith many of the vehicles involved
proving difficult to trace through Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency
5.2 Both criminal and civil enforcement
regimesas well as TfL's congestion charging schemerely
heavily on the quality of the DVLA's database in providing to
traffic authorities accurate and up-to-date details of vehicle
ownership. Although DVLA deliver responses to 97% of enquiries
from traffic enforcement authorities, a significantly higher percentage
of all PCNs issued may be written off because of defects in the
DVLA database. These are not always apparent until the far end
of the enforcement process when bailiffs attempt to execute a
5.3 TfL's enforcement activities show that
at any one time around 5% of traffic contraventions are committed
by a persistent offender
who has successfully evaded detection by being improperly registered
at the DVLA. TfL, the police and the Boroughs take the view that
a significant proportion of persistent evaders are likely to be
of interest to the Police for other offences.
5.4 TfL believes that more should be done
to improve the DVLA database. The Committee may wish to consider
whether vehicle registration should be uniquely and permanently
linked to each owner/driver (rather than tied to each specific
vehicle). Individual owner/drivers would carry their registration
with them "for life" and transfer them to each vehicle
for the duration of their ownership. This would simplify tracing
vehicles to those responsible for them.
5.5 TfL and the police have started to track
and apprehend persistent evaders using automatic numberplate recognition
systems. However, this joint approach is complicated by the provisions
of the Data Protection Act which restricts the exchange of personal
data between public bodies.
5.6 The Committee may wish to explore possible
amendments or exemptions to the Data Protection Act to enable
the sharing of data between transport enforcement agencies in
order to pursue persistent offenders. At the current time requests
for information can only be made on a case by case basis. A blanket
exemption for data transfer relating to persistent offenders of
traffic laws and regulations would enhance joint working and the
ability to take quick and effective action against these offenders.
6. DEALING WITH
6.1 The visible enforcement of road traffic
law is an effective deterrent to dangerous behaviour on the road.
If drivers and riders believe there is less chance of being detected
and prosecuted, they are more likely to behave dangerously (by
speeding, close following, drink driving etc) leading to more
road accidents and deaths and injuries on the road. Previous research
shows that the perceived chance of a conviction has more effect
on deterring offenders than the severity of the sentence.
6.2 The Home Office has launched a review
of road traffic offences that will examine ways of updating the
law on serious offences, particularly with death and injury results
due to dangerous driving. We call on this review to lead to new
proposals for the prosecution and punishment for this type of
crime. There is no doubt that an increased police presence to
deal with these traffic offences would make a very positive contribution
to road safety.
6.3 One positive way of dealing with persistent
offenders is to provide information and training through "referral"
courses. These can be tailored to deal with specific types of
offences (drink driving, speeding etc) and international experience
shows they can be effective. We support the view that these courses
should be made mandatory through the courts for certain categories
7.1 TfL is committed to making walking and
cycling more attractive and an integral part of the transport
network. Walking accounts for more than a quarter of the daily
trips made in Greater London.
Conversely, cyclingwhilst a quick, healthy, affordable
and non-polluting form of travelremains relatively low
in London compared to many other European cities.
7.2 There are many reasons why people do
not cycle including safety issues, poor cycling environment and
lack of information or skills. TfL is working to overcome these
barriers so that people have the ability and confidence to cycle.
7.3 Perceived safety from other road users
is a major issue for both pedestrians and cyclists. Effective
enforcement against offences such as speeding vehicles, vehicles
that `jump' red lights, and the obstruction of pedestrian and
cycle facilities are important to protect these more vulnerable
road users. This enforcement is more likely to be delivered effectively
through the use of TPCSOswith their wide-ranging general
powersthan more singular forms of civil enforcement.
8.1 Over the past three years, TfL and the
Metropolitan Police have taken a decisive and joint approach to
the enforcement of traffic and parking laws. Through our work
we are starting to see a positive impact on compliance which is
critical to maximising the safety and effectiveness of London's
traffic system and also addresses a wider public safety agenda.
We believe that there are lessons from the London experience for
8.2 Effective enforcement of traffic law
is central to the Mayor's strategy to improve transport in London.
TfL is committed to working in partnership with other agencies
to deliver compliance with traffic and parking regulations and
to achieve better delivery of transport services.
8.3 TfL recognises the pressure on police
operational resources and the many conflicting priorities faced
by Chief Constables. However, rather than encouraging a shift
of police attention away from traffic policing, TfL has creatively
sought to build a robust partnership with the Metropolitan Police
to concentrate the resources and capabilities of both organisations
on complementary aspects of the wider traffic management and enforcement
8.4 We would urge the Committee to consider
carefully how the merits of greater civilian involvement in enforcing
traffic law can be integrated with retaining a strong, visible
police presence on the nation's road network. Care must be taken
to ensure that the objective of achieving higher compliance is
not lost against the need to make the operation self-financing.
Further, if existing police resources are diverted away from traffic
policing then there may be a substantial net loss in terms of
the safe and effective management of the road network.
8.5 We would also urge the Committee to
consider strengthening the legal requirement for police authorities
to provide traffic policing in its broader sense. In doing so
the law should encourage and enable joint working with civilian
agencies to deliver truly effective traffic law enforcement.
8.6 TfL would be happy to answer any questions
the Committee may have and is grateful for the opportunity to
comment on this important issue.
Transport for London
6 This is borne out by research in other parts of
the country; for example, survey work in Huddersfield indicated
that one in four of those parking illegally in disabled parking
bays was of interest to the police for criminal activity. Back
There were 5,650 people killed and seriously injured in London
in 2002; a reduction of 7% from 2001 and 15% below the 1994-1998
base line. We are currently on target to achieve the Government's
40% reduction of killed and seriously injured target by 2010. Back
TfL achieves an 85% payment rate for PCNs issued in regard to
bus lane enforcement. Back
Someone who has offended more than twice in the previous 12 months. Back
London Travel Report 2002. Back