National policing plans
30. A further demonstration of the marginalisation
of roads policing is the failure to give it due emphasis in the
National Policing Plans and other strategic documents produced
by the Home Office. The Home Office publishes rolling three-year
National Policing Plans, which set out national priorities and
provide the framework for local police planning.
31. The Departments' joint submission stated: "the
first three National Policing Plans included a clear expectation
that effective roads policing would be given proper attention."
We are astounded that the Government considers that these plans
placed an emphasis on roads policing. It seems to us, and to many
of our witnesses, that roads policing has not been established
as a priority in these plans: being listed only under the 'other
areas of work' sections, or relegated to an example to illustrate
an area of responsibility.
As Chief Inspector Jan Berry of the Police Federation told us:
the National Policing Plan failed to have any mention
of any roads policing requirements in the first couple of years.
Our feedback to Government on every single occasion is that this
is an integral part of policing and must be included. It is now
included but there is no measurement attached to it. What gets
counted gets done in policing and whilst I am not the first person
to support performance measures [
] you do need to have a
measurement if roads policing is going to be taken seriously.
32. We were intrigued by the basis used to determine
the priorities for national Policing Plan and what evidence-base
there was for allocating these. The Department for Transport and
the Home Office responded that: "The National Policing Plan
is published by the Home Secretary in consultation with key stakeholders."
The submission went on to state: "The priorities are informed
by the Association of Chief Police Officer's National Strategic
Given the strong feeling about road casualty reduction, we find
it peculiar that roads policing is not given greater weight in
such consultations. We question the extent to which road safety
representatives, roads police officers and local residents generally
are given the opportunity to participate in such consultations.
Targets and performance indicators
33. We also heard of the problems faced in attempting
to prioritise roads policing when there is little in the way of
performance indicators and targets to measure progress. Although
the Government's road safety strategy, Tomorrow's Roads Safer
for Everyone makes clear that roads policing is an essential
element of the strategy, the Government's road casualty reduction
target is a Public Service Agreement target for the Department
for Transport, but not the Home Office.
This creates something of a tension in terms of the priority given
to enforcing road traffic law: responsibility for road casualty
reduction is splintered rather than shared.
34. The Police Superintendents Association of England
and Wales told us: "if casualty reduction targets were jointly
owned by the Home Office and Department for Transport, this would
ensure that the police service at BCU [Basic Command Unit] and
force level would recognise more fully its commitment to casualty
This view was shared by many other witnesses.
This included the Police Federation, which stated: "Regrettably,
there is little incentive for Chief Constables to focus resources
on this issue as it is not seen as a Home Office priority."
35. Failure to include prominent reference to roads
policing in the Plans is thought to lead directly to the diminished
resources made available for the activity. Transport for London
told us: "TfL does not believe that the necessary resources
are directed at these issues. In many ways this relates to the
position of traffic policing in the national policing priorities
36. Although the casualty targets are not shared
by the Home Office, the road casualty rate is used as an indicator
in the Policing Performance Assessment Framework. One of the 32
indicators measures the number of people killed or seriously injured
in road traffic collisions per 100 million vehicle kilometres
travelled. The Framework
allows performance to be compared between forces. In the view
of the Association of Chief Police Officers, however, this performance
indicator is not a sufficient encouragement to ensure the prominence
of roads policing:
Locally, the Government is encouraging better performance
by local partnerships through the Community Safety Plan. However,
whilst specific in their demands upon police and local authorities
to develop effective crime reduction and antisocial behaviour
strategies, there is no mention of road safety or road crime other
than the Killed and Seriously Injured 'Policing Performance Assessment
Framework' indicator. There is a need for greater incentives in
the way of performance indicators for road safety and road policing
to be included in the Community Safety Plan.
37. Police performance is measured in terms of sanctioned
detections, but not all types of crime are counted.
The offences listed within the counting rules are extensive and
range from the abstraction of electricity, to fraudulent use of
a car tax disc. We heard that some serious driving offences were
not counted as 'sanctioned detections'.
The Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales
told us that the offences of drink and drug driving and disqualified
driving do not fall within the Home Office counting rules.
The PSAEW argued that, if the offences of drink/drug-driving,
and driving while disqualified were counted as sanctioned detections,
it would encourage forces to devote more resources to tackling
them, with a positive effect on road safety.
to include roads policing as a priority in the National Policing
Plan over a number of years seriously undermines the claim that
roads policing is seen by the Home Office as a core part of police
activity. In the future the Home Office must ensure that road
safety and roads policing representatives are fully consulted
when the priorities for the National Policing Plan are being determined.
We recommend that the road casualty reduction targets become part
of the Home Office's Public Service Agreements. Given the vital
contribution that roads policing can make to casualty reduction,
the targets should be explicitly acknowledged to be the joint
responsibility of both the Department for Transport and the Home
Office. The offences of drink driving, drug driving and disqualified
driving are serious ones, and should be included in the Home Office
Counting Rules for Recorded Crime.
EVIDENCE-BASED POLICING PRIORITIES
39. We heard that traffic law enforcement had become
a low policing priority because it is a low political priority.
Firearms and other types of street crime were perceived to be
more important. Mr Hughes of ACPO told us:
The issue is quite straightforward: it is that the
public demand a level of protection from the threat of firearms,
which they do not reflect in public opinion in terms of the threat
from cars often. I am well aware, and I am the leading spokesperson,
of the fact that ten times as many people are killed on the roads
as are, in fact, murdered every year, but there are political
realities and a breadth of issues to sort out.
We were alarmed to hear this argument advanced by
the most senior police officer in the country with responsibility
for roads policing.
40. Mr Hughes indicated that in local consultations
for the Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships, roads policing
had been "very low down their scale of priorities".
This was contested by other witnesses.
Chief Superintendent Derek Barnett, representing the PSAEW, told
I was here when you had the previous evidence and
there was a suggestion that traffic policing casualty reduction
was not of prime importance to local communities. Certainly my
experience when I have been a BCU commander is that my postbag
and my public meetings featured very, very strongly casualty reduction,
speeding offences and anti-social use of vehicles.
Indeed, it was brought to our attention that the
2003-04 British Crime Survey found that speeding traffic was the
most commonly mentioned antisocial behaviour (cited by 43% of
the population), outranking other problems such as illegal parking,
uncontrolled fireworks, drug use or dealing, vandalism or graffiti.
This was backed by a survey undertaken in the London Borough of
Camden which found that 66 per cent of respondents would support
more enforcement against traffic offences and 52 per cent supported
funding more police speed enforcement.
The Police Superintendents Association concurred: "Community
consultation invariably supports enhanced local roads policing
to tackle anti-social use of the roads."
41. While we understand the need for local input
into policing priorities, deployment decisions should be based
primarily upon evidence: of the harm which results from specific
types of offence and the potential of enforcement to prevent this.
We believe such an approach would place roads policing high on
the list of priorities. Because it is not possible to establish
what proportion of road traffic collisions have involved an offence,
it is difficult to assess what proportion of the 34,331 deaths
and serious injuries each year could be prevented through better
enforcement. We understand that the Home Office and Department
for Transport are looking at ways of identifying links between
offences and collision data.
42. With the existing data, we know that in 2004,
454 people were successfully prosecuted for events that resulted
in the death of another road user.
This figure is far from comprehensive, however, because, as the
government's submission identified, a proportion of dead drivers
will have been committing an offence at the time they were killed
but this will not feature in offence totals. For example, we know
that in 2004, 1,747 drivers and motorcyclists were killed in collisions;
however what we do not know is what number of these drivers committed
an offence which contributed to the collision taking place. Furthermore,
as a report of the former Transport Committee has identified,
there is still a tendency for prosecutors to pursue the lesser
offence of careless driving, rather than causing death by dangerous
driving, even where a death has resulted because of the greater
chance of conviction.
43. In comparison, in 2004, 1,427 people died from
drug poisoning (misuse); and 820 homicides were recorded in 2004-05
in England and Wales (in 20 of which the victim was struck by
a motor vehicle).
The Home Office should base
priorities in the National Policing Plans on evidence of the actual
number of casualties which result from different types of crime,
not the amount of publicity they generate. We welcome the decision
by the Home Office and the Department for Transport to undertake
research into the links between offences and collision data. The
results of this research must be taken fully into account in police
8 Ev 51 Back
Ev 81 Back
Ev 119 Back
Ev 81 Back
Ev 98 Back
Ev 20 Back
Ev 54 Back
Ev 150 Back
Ev 81, 69, 20, 28, 22 Back
Ev 69 Back
Ev 22 Back
Ev 54 Back
Qq 13-14 Back
Qq 325, 352 Back
Ev 1 Back
HMIC. 1998. Road Policing and Traffic: HMIC Thematic Inspection
Report. Home Office. London: 10-12 Back
See Hansard, HC Debate 10 January 2005, col 364W Back
Q323 and Ev 150. "Traffic function" includes officers
who provide operational, operational support and organisational
support duties. The numbers are for "full time equivalents". Back
Ev 54 Back
Ev 51. See also Ev 65 Back
Ev 69 Back
Q150, Ev 65, Traffic Management Act 2004 section 8 Back
Department for Transport Press Notice 28/04/2006 "Highways
Agency Traffic Officers Join Forces With Thames Valley Police" Back
Home Office (2003) The National Policing Plan 2004-07 Home Office
Communication Directorate: London Back
Ev 101 Back
PACTS (2005) 'Policing Road Risk: Enforcement, Technologies and
Road Safety'. Parliamentary Advisory Council For Transport Safety,
Occasional Research Reports. London. ISSN 1748-8338. Page 16 Back
Ev 150 Back
DETR (2000) Tomorrow's Roads Safer for Everyone Back
Ev 54 Back
Ev 81, 124, 51, Qq 19, 20, 138 Back
Ev 51 Back
Ev 86 Back
Ev 101 Back
Ev 1 Back
A sanctioned detection is a notifiable recorded crime which results
in the following steps: charge; summons; caution; taken into consideration;
and penalty notice. Back
Q139, Ev 54, 64 Back
Ev 64 Back
Ev 116, 81,119, 134, 54 Back
In Ev 116, "Perceptions and experience of antisocial behaviour:
findings from the 2003/2004 British Crime Survey" by Martin
Wood, see http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/rdsolr4904.pdf
Ev 119 Back
Ev 54 Back
Ev 150 Back
House of Commons Transport Committee Sixteenth Report of Session
2003-04, HC 105-I Traffic Law and its Enforcement Back
Ev 150 Back