House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
Wednesday 8 March 2006
MR MEREDYDD HUGHES and MR HUW JONES
MR KEVIN DELANEY and MR MALCOLM BINGHAM
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Transport Committee
on Wednesday 8 March 2006
Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody, in the Chair
Mrs Louise Ellman
Mr Robert Goodwill
Mr John Leech
Mr Eric Martlew
Memoranda submitted by The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Mr Meredydd Hughes, Chief Constable, South Yorkshire, The Association of Chief Police Officers, and Mr Huw Jones, Deputy Chief Constable, Assistant Inspector of Constabulary, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, gave evidence.
Chairman: Good afternoon, gentlemen, you are most warmly welcome this afternoon. We have one small bit of housekeeping to accomplish before we can begin: Members having an interest to declare.
Mr Martlew: Member of the Transport and General Workers' Union and GMB (General and Municipal Workers).
Graham Stringer: Member of Amicus.
Clive Efford: Member of the Transport and General Workers' Union.
Chairman: Gwyneth Dunwoody, Aslef.
Mrs Ellman: Member of the Transport and General Workers' Union.
Q1 Chairman: Thank you. Gentlemen, this is a matter of considerable importance to this Committee and we therefore welcome your evidence and the evidence of those for whom you speak. May I ask you firstly to introduce yourselves for the record?
Mr Hughes: Good afternoon, Madam Chairman. My name is Meredydd Hughes, I am the Chief Constable of the South Yorkshire Police and I am now the ACPO lead for roads policing in England and Wales.
Mr Jones: Good afternoon, Madam Chairman. Huw Jones, Her Majesty's Assistant Inspector of Constabulary.
Q2 Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. Did either of you have anything you wanted to say before we begin?
Mr Hughes: Not at all. I am grateful to have the opportunity to submit evidence to the Committee and I look forward to answering your questions.
Q3 Chairman: It is very nice to see that we are starting off with a set of witnesses that we cannot in any way regard as being other than of the highest quality.
Mr Hughes: I hope to live up to that, Madam Chairman.
Q4 Chairman: Between 1999 and 2004 operational traffic officer numbers fell by 21 per cent. Why was that?
Mr Hughes: I would say that that is Chief Constables exercising their responsibility to look at the widest range of priorities laid out for them, the huge range of priorities put upon them, in part, and largely by central Government plans, and making decisions about a finite number of resources. Whilst resources overall in the police service has gone up by seven per cent over a set period the number of incidents to which they have to respond has gone up by nearer 1000 per cent. Roads policing officer numbers actually did fall over that time; there is some evidence now that those numbers are creeping back up. That is the first point. The second point, Madam Chairman, is that policing has changed quite radically in the last few years, and it is very difficult to identify a roads policing officer. You might find this strange, but there are three definitions, for example, of a Special Branch officer, and you might think that was such a refined post that there must be one clear idea about what they do. Policing is multi-tasked; you have the same staff doing different things, and in reorganisational terms officers sometimes get roads policing as a secondary function. In my own force - and I am an officer who cut my roads policing department - I had the responsibility of finding additional firearms officers to protect both the public and police officers in South Yorkshire. At the same time, I promised my local police authority that I will deliver neighbourhood-based policing. I have to find those resources from somewhere; I looked to the road policing teams, and then what I did was I gave the responsibility for enforcement of minor infractions and fixed penalty tickets to the firearms officers who were thus created and gave them secondary responsibility. That means that you cannot judge who is involved in roads policing exclusively by a single number, you have to look at the breadth. The final point on this is that, of course, a huge number of roads policing functions are carried out as part of core policing by ordinary police officers.
Q5 Chairman: Yes, I understand that. If I was being anti-social I might say: "How many people were killed by firearms or terrorism last year in Yorkshire and how many were killed on the roads?"
Mr Hughes: That is an absolutely fair question.
Q6 Chairman: It does sort of leap into my tiny, empty mind.
Mr Hughes: I would not describe your mind as either tiny or empty ----
Q7 Chairman: Good. That is wise.
Mr Hughes: It is your prerogative, Madam Chairman, not mine.
Q8 Chairman: When you get outside, Chief Constable, you can say what you like.
Mr Hughes: I tend to say things up front rather than behind doors - it is more fun that way. 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.
Q9 Chairman: If there are 43 different forces, a lot of them with totally different definitions of what is a roads police officer, and quite often this is really regarded as a secondary function, how are we to know which are the people with specific responsibility? Would you tell us how the time of a traffic police officer is typically spent? What are his, or her, main priorities?
Mr Hughes: For a roads policing officer in my force, which is the best exemplar because I have been out and seen them do it, a great deal of their activity is preventative. I would expect them to have a skills set that includes the investigation of fatal and life-changing injuries; they have an educative function, they have an enforcement role in terms of issuing tickets for a wide variety of offences or arresting people for crime, and they very much have a role of visible prevention by being apparent on the streets.
Q10 Chairman: The Transport and Road Research Laboratory says that enforcement would have a direct influence upon a five per cent reduction in killed and seriously injured; measures to control drink-driving and improved driver behaviour. Surely, that ought to be not a secondary function of the police force but a primary function.
Mr Hughes: I would agree. I only use the phrase "secondary function" in terms of specific officers who were engaged in specific crime.
Q11 Chairman: In effect, you have encapsulated the problem. You told us that because, presumably, there is not a specific instruction that tells you: "You must have X numbers of police who are devoted to road policing", all the other things take precedence and when the pressure comes on a Chief Constable to find extra officers for other duties, guess who gets taken off first?
Mr Hughes: There are no specific requirements on any force to have any types of officers - specific numbers - so it is not being less developed in that regard, it is the same. You mention there, specifically, drink-driving; most drink-driving offences are detected by operational officers working in the community on neighbourhood or similar activities. That is where that work is done, primarily, anyway. That is a core function for them.
Q12 Chairman: So do you think there is any evidence that if you actually disband a dedicated road policing unit it has an effect on enforcement?
Mr Hughes: I believe it does. Unfortunately, evidence you may hear from the HMIC will show that the model as described by yourself and in the various reports is not important. It is not the structure, it is how they carry out roads policing. So if colleagues have chosen to have their roads policing officers broken into small groups around the communities that make up a force area, that may well be as effective as officers who are in a centralised unit. I, personally, prefer to keep the officers in the centralised unit where we can ensure their skills set is maintained, where their tasked and co-ordinated in the appropriate way. However, officers taking an alternative view are entitled to that, if they maintain the standards.
Q13 Chairman: You have rather been called into account there, Mr Jones.
Mr Jones: Yes, I have. It certainly is our view that we should not be counting numbers; it is actually what are the outcomes that these officers are achieving? As the Chief Constable has said, if they are trained properly and if they are tasked properly, that is really the crucial thing here. It is: what intelligence do we have? Where should we put these resources? If they are put in the right place with the right training, they will actually achieve what we require of them. So it is not just pure numbers, it is actually what we do with these numbers.
Q14 Chairman: That must be true of all policemen. If they are not properly trained and they are not in the right place they are not going to be a lot of use! We are talking about a very specific problem of road traffic, which kills 3,200 people in a year. We are not talking about a small number of deaths.
Mr Jones: It is actually core policing now. I think there is an issue about should it stand alone or not, and our view is it should be incorporated in core policing; it should be the role of every police officer to make sure that the roads are safe, and it should not be something only left to a few.
Q15 Mrs Ellman: Mr Hughes, when you were asked before about road policing you said there were certain political realities. Does that mean that you do not feel any pressure on you to deal with road policing?
Mr Hughes: I do right now! My colleagues will ----
Q16 Chairman: I do not think that counts, Mr Hughes.
Mr Hughes: In truth, most performance indicators for the service are focused on areas around individual victimisation in terms of property crime, and if you look at the suite of performance indicators that will bear me out. This area is not alone in having, perhaps, insufficient performance indicators to balance up the demands on other aspects, but it is wider than that. I would not want to just say: "Oh, it is because the Home Office makes us all go down one path"; that would be too simplistic. When you actually go out and ask the public through Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships or through public consultation through police authorities, it is a fact that roads policing and enforcement comes very low down their scale of priorities. In a customer focused environment, where public services are intended to be more customer-focused, we have a battle of hearts and minds to win. If you have lost a member of your family, or if you have been subject to victimisation on the roads, or if you are in an area where people are using vehicles anti-socially, then it comes up the scale. That is, I believe, dealt with by my colleagues at force level, but it is an issue that broadly, across the whole of the UK, there is less pressure on chief officers to put people into roads policing than there would be to put them into, for example, at the moment, neighbourhood based policing.
Q17 Mrs Ellman: The Department for Transport has targets for casualty reduction. If that target was shared by the Home Office, would that make a difference to the way this is approached?
Mr Hughes: Yes. I would want to say that I see the Department for Transport and the Home Office officials working very closely together. In the few months since I have taken up this post I have had ministerial-level meetings, senior official meetings and I am aware of a great degree of synchronicity between what they are looking for. They are working together. I do not see huge gaps between them. However, the target on this is a Department for Transport one rather than a Home Office one.
Q18 Mrs Ellman: So it would be different if it was a target for the Home Office?
Mr Hughes: I cannot say; that would be down to how they included it in their suite of performance indicators for the service as a whole. Not all performance indicators are given the same level of enforcement or of regard, and there are large numbers of them. The battle is always to reduce them so that local flexibility plays a key. We are talking here where the perspective is from the centre. Policing is locally delivered, it is a local service and we must balance what local communities want in terms of their police services.
Q19 Chairman: The reality is, whether you like it or not, the Home Office has given you certain core tasks and they are going to lean on you if you do not respond. They will set down the priorities and unless it is written down - forgive me - it seems to me that the police force does not quite notice.
Mr Hughes: I think my colleagues would notice, and I think we want to do the best possible job across all the areas for the public. I would agree that resources tend to follow where there are performance indicators and I think it would be naïve not to. What gets measured gets managed, is an old sore, but the issue there is that you also have to provide a service to local communities. As we move into a world of differently sized forces, I think that balance will become even more critical.
Q20 Mrs Ellman: Mr Jones, how do you see this? Do you think that more attention would be given to roads policing if there was an indicator for it within the Home Office, or do you think it could be done within the remit there is at the moment?
Mr Jones: I am in total agreement. If it was a performance indicator given to all forces through the Home Office then, probably, it would have a different profile, shall we say? I think we have to remember as well that in the past the police have followed performance indicators and, if you take volume crime as an example, followed those indicators all the way and now, of course, we are having to look at protective services because a majority of the resources have gone one way. It is getting that fine balance. I think you are right; if they were there then they would have to have a different profile.
Q21 Mrs Ellman: One of the priority areas in the Roads Policing Strategy is enhancing public confidence by patrolling the roads. Is that done sufficiently?
Mr Hughes: If you ask the public they will tell you that there is insufficient patrolling in any regard, particularly by foot patrol. Patrolling a road at a strategic level I do not think there is enough, and I recently moved to offer more resources, through the police authority, to my roads policing group. I am in a fortunate position that my police authority have given me reserves in order to be able to do that, and also to reinforce the counter-terrorist and other aspects of South Yorkshire's policing. That position is entirely dependent on local police authorities. Do I think there are enough officers on patrol? No. That matches, obviously, the public's requirement but how you patrol is as important as the numbers.
Q22 Mrs Ellman: What about stationary, invisible policing? Do you think that is more important than patrolling?
Mr Hughes: No. As a broad principle I think visible policing is very important but we are increasingly led by the national intelligence model that we should be, which says where to put resources in order to reduce crime and disorder to the most effect. That often does not satisfy certain communities who want a police officer at a set point at a set time, regardless of the real threat to the public under those circumstances. So we have a constant debate, in the same way all public services do, about how we use resources. That is not a problem; that is part of being a public servant.
Q23 Mrs Ellman: How is the intelligence-led model of policing applied to roads policing?
Mr Hughes: I would say that it is patchy, if I was to be entirely frank. Where it has been brought in it tends to be silo-ed, so that where a roads policing group is using the NIM effectively it tends - I am talking in generalities, Madam Chairman, I hope you accept that; there will obviously be places of very good practice where it is fully integrated and there will be others where NIM generally is not as well integrated as it should be. The overall picture for roads policing is that it has tended to be separately brought in and specifically for roads policing groups, separate from the other aspects of core policing. There is one exception to this, and that is the use of Automatic Number Plate Recognition equipment, where the teams that have been set up - usually with roads policing officers as the core of it - but that is what I mean about overlapping activities. They could quite reasonably be considered to be intelligence-gathering officers or crime fighting police officers as well as roads policing officers. But where teams of ANPR have been set up they are very much integrated into the broad intelligence picture for a force.
Q24 Mrs Ellman: Mr Jones, we are told that the last thematic inspection of road policing was in 1998. Is that correct? What has happened since then?
Mr Jones: Yes, it is. The broad outcome of that was really to integrate roads policing into core policing, and clearly we have been talking about that today.
Q25 Chairman: That was when it started to go down. Is that what we are to assume?
Mr Jones: No, I do not think it did; I think it actually brought it to the local base where it should be because it is more than just reducing casualties, it is about tackling criminality on the roads, it is about counter-terrorism and otherwise it would have stayed in one place, as the Chief Constable has mentioned, into a silo. Last year we undertook an extremely painstaking and intrusive inspection across every force in England and Wales with protective services in mind. There are seven protective services, and you can go from counter-terrorism and organised crime through, and one of them was roads policing, so that every force was inspected by ourselves. As I say, it was extremely intrusive, and from that we came out with scores for all the forces. I have to say that of all the seven areas that was the highest scoring area, so roads policing scored better at protecting the public than, say, some of the other areas. Of course, we know that the debate has now moved on to restructuring the police, and I am sure we do not need to go into that now, but roads policing did score well. There is still a lot to do though, and we felt that we should share the results with every force and, in fact, they have the templates and our inspection process as well, so they are now self-inspecting against those. So although there has not been a thematic, there has been a far more intrusive and hard look at them within the last twelve months.
Q26 Mrs Ellman: Can you tell us which police authorities give concern in this area?
Mr Jones: In a sense there are none because nobody scored a "poor", which did not happen in the other protective services. So, as I say, this was the best managed of those seven.
Q27 Chairman: I am not bright, Mr Jones. You are telling me the numbers have gone down until recently, a lot of people disbanded these particular services but when you did an intrusive inspection (which conjures up the marvellous suggestion that most of your inspections are not intrusive) you came up with the suggestion that this had got a better response? Does that seem mildly unlikely to you?
Mr Jones: If you just look at numbers then yes, it does, but actually, as I have said before, it is not about the numbers that are in roads policing, it is about ----
Q28 Chairman: How do you measure those results then? What kind of nice, tight measure do you use to that says to you: "This lot are doing all right"?
Mr Jones: It goes from casualty reduction all the way through to how is the NIM process (that is National Intelligence Model) being used? Is the intelligence from all the areas going into focusing those resources where they should be? It looks at partnership - what is the partnership with the Highways Agency, with all the local authorities? So it goes through partnership enforcement and the whole raft, again, of what we have been discussing today. In our opinion, roads policing, although it could be improved especially around the intelligence side, fared better than some of the others.
Q29 Mr Leech: Is there any correlation between the least well performing forces and the worst areas in terms of accidents?
Mr Jones: There are not, actually. In fact, there is not even a correlation between those that still have what we would call dedicated traffic or roads policing units and those that put it into core policing. There is no correlation between those that have higher numbers or percentages of officers doing this work.
Q30 Mr Leech: That is not skewed by having one of the benchmarks being: are you reducing the number of accidents?
Mr Jones: No, it is not.
Q31 Mr Martlew: Just on casualties, and listening to what you are saying, obviously, over the years, the numbers of police have reduced but the numbers of casualties have reduced as well. Is that a vindication of what you have done?
Mr Jones: I am not so sure it is, and I do not think that we can claim that because there are many other things that come into play: I have mentioned partners; we have not really got on to it yet but there is the technology that is being used; it is the way in which, again, we are using the resources. So I do not think you can put that down to any one thing. The only good thing is, as you say, that casualties are going down.
Q32 Mr Martlew: For the public and myself, if you see a policeman on a Sunday parked up on the motorway you are not very happy; if you see a policeman walking round outside your house you are delighted. Is that part of the aspect of why you have had this reduction in numbers?
Mr Hughes: I guess that falls to me. Yes, that is part of it, in the broadest possible terms. In terms of casualty reduction, I can say that, in my own force area, when we reduced the number of police officers, casualties were stable over that time, so that the number of officers who were involved in roads policing, when I took them out and put them into firearms, did not seem to make any appreciable difference. The point is we are just looking at one small part of enforcement, education and engineering. Road engineering is continually improving (there is always room for further improvement) and education is improving, but we have actually also got to broaden our minds and think about the fact that we have an NHS that is far more focused now on delivering critical casualty management in that first, golden, hour and much better equipped with people arriving at the scenes of RTCs much more quickly. So there are going to be a number of reasons why the numbers of people killed in road collisions, hopefully, can decline. My fear is that we have put a lot of interest in technology in protecting drivers inside motor vehicles. Until very recently I have not seen the same interest in protecting pedestrians by the manufacturers of motor cars. I think it is my responsibility, and I do not just speak for motorists in terms of roads policing but I am also interested in what we can do for pedestrians, horse-riders, cyclists and all the other user groups of the highways and the roads.
Chairman: A very revolutionary idea.
Q33 Clive Efford: Can I just move on to enforcement of speed limits. In your memorandum you say that motorists speed where there are no cameras. To what extent would you like to see the road network covered by speed cameras?
Mr Hughes: I do not want to see an extension of the numbers of speed cameras currently in use. I would welcome the flexibility to move those cameras to sites where the KSI (Killed and Seriously Injured) rate has risen. In other words, it is about using those cameras in a wider environment. The reality of the use of speed cameras is that they cover a very small percentage of our roads at the moment - they tend to be point cameras. There is new technology coming on that sees those cameras being used over wider road lengths. One example is the 608 in Nottingham, another one is the Stocksbridge Bypass in my own force area, which has one of the highest casualty rates in the UK. It is now covered by a series which measures your average speed between start and finish on a road, which therefore gives the motorist, I think - the "generally law-abiding" motorist is the phrase we have heard - the opportunity to make sure they keep their average speed over an area without being penalised for just a short distance. Speed cameras play an essential role in reducing casualties; I want to see us have the continued flexibility to deploy them where they are needed.
Q34 Clive Efford: Currently they account for 90 per cent of speed enforcement. Is too much emphasis being placed on cameras in speed enforcement?
Mr Hughes: No, I do not think there is. Speed remains, as far as I am concerned, the most critical factor. There are others about driver behaviour, driver responsibility, driver stupidity; there are issues there, however, about a balance of the way that we enforce the law. As far as I am concerned, if I am serious - and I am very serious - about reducing casualties then when I become aware of an accident hotspot where speed is a critical factor I should put a police officer there to constantly monitor and control speed. If I put a machine there to do it, as far as I am concerned I am releasing a police officer to go and investigate burglaries or to go and investigate other serious breaches of road traffic law and behaviour. So I see them as freeing up police resources for the bigger picture.
Q35 Clive Efford: Freeing up police resources for patrolling road aspects ----
Mr Hughes: All aspects.
Q36 Clive Efford: ---- aspects of road crime or all aspects of crime?
Mr Hughes: Road crime, in my case. I would not make a direct correlation between putting a speed camera in one position and therefore taking a police officer out of roads policing.
Q37 Clive Efford: Do you think the Government is committed to camera enforcement?
Mr Hughes: I welcome the flexibility that is coming in the change of policy. I still have concerns that the funding into casualty reduction and road safety should be available to the police service nationally. It will come in through a new means. I think actually breaking the link between the direct number of tickets issued and the amount of money that comes back to a local area is probably a good thing. I am saddened that we never were able to win the argument that it was a revenue stream. I frequently point out (often to the embarrassment, I think, of others) that it was the only area of fining where the money came back to the local community. After all, if we commit burglaries or assaults the money comes straight into the Treasury coffers and nothing comes back to local policing. So I thought it was an innovative idea to get more funding back into local policing, and I am sorry to see it end in that regard.
Q38 Clive Efford: An interesting concept that the police should raise more money than they actually cost.
Mr Hughes: I am sorry, we never did; we only got our expenses back. That was another point that was not made. You do not make a profit on this locally; you cover your local expenses.
Q39 Clive Efford: The rules relating to camera partnerships. Do you think the way the Government approached it limited the effectiveness of it?
Mr Hughes: I was not involved in roads policing at that particular time when the rules came in. My awareness of the rules, therefore, I can only speak for the last few months, and therefore I do welcome the way that the funding has been made more flexible so that we can use the funding to fund local engineering or interactive signage - the ones that flash up when you come into somewhere and say that you are going too fast, please slow down - because they have some effect. Actually, their effect is limited unless you also do enforcement. Making sure that is flexible. I understand, in fact, that we were able originally to use the money for that kind of initiative and then that flexibility was taken away from us, so it is good to see it back.
Q40 Clive Efford: Do you think the flexibility is there for the local partnerships to act in anticipation of, say, an accident spot where there is likely to be injury caused rather than wait for the accidents and the numbers to tot up to then move in and put a camera in?
Mr Hughes: The change in planning is not in place yet; that will be a question of how it is actually delivered on the ground. I would hope that is the case. I am rather a sceptic about government promises of funding to the police service - forgive me, I have been a cop for 27 years. I look forward to seeing the money arrive in the local authority and partnership arrangements so that we can spend it on accident reduction and road crime enforcement.
Q41 Clive Efford: On the motorway network, do you think that cameras should be used more to enforce the national speed limit on motorways?
Mr Hughes: No. I think they should go where the intelligence tells us the biggest risk is, and that is not the motorway network.
Q42 Clive Efford: One last thing on technology: we now have number plate recognition technology. There has been speculation about our being able to identify individuals driving vehicles and, perhaps, even identify individuals committing crimes like using a mobile 'phone or wearing seat belts. Do you have any views on that sort of technology?
Mr Hughes: My understanding of the specific technology that has been mentioned is that it only works under fairly restrictive conditions. We should be very wary of believing IT salesmen, you know; they are not the most reliable indicator of the true success of products. My responsibility as Chair of the Roads Policing Enforcement Technology Sub-Committee (not surprisingly known as RPET) is to test and type-approve with the Home Office all the new technology coming into the UK. I was very excited about new technology about 18 months ago that seemed to offer the opportunity to do something about "close-following" - those people who tailgate on roads. Sadly, it seems that what will work in a very nice alpine tunnel does not quite cut it on the sort of roads of Yorkshire and Lancashire in the typical weather that we have in the UK. So there is a huge gap between innovative ideas at that end and the delivery of usable technology at that one, and I think this is too early to say. I have a bigger issue about that which is the intrusiveness of technology into activity. At the end of this, I still want to see more roads policing officers on the road exercising their discretion about reporting offenders for serious crimes, and I would prefer to see the energies of all involved in this in doing more in respect of drink and drug related driving.
Chairman: Chief Constable, I am going to be a bit brutal with both my Members and my witnesses now. We need to get through a lot of things.
Q43 Graham Stringer: Just to clarify one point, Mr Hughes, earlier on you said that police numbers had gone up by seven per cent.
Mr Hughes: That is overall.
Q44 Graham Stringer: What period of time are you talking about?
Mr Hughes: I was using a 12-year timescale.
Q45 Graham Stringer: For both figures?
Mr Hughes: The same period.
Q46 Graham Stringer: It was 12 years?
Mr Hughes: Yes.
Q47 Graham Stringer: The increases have been more significant recently.
Mr Hughes: I accept that, and it was an indicator not an absolute.
Q48 Graham Stringer: Mr Jones, is it ACPO's policy that the blood alcohol level should be reduced from 80 micrograms to 50 micrograms?
Mr Jones: I will actually pass the ball over on that one.
Mr Hughes: Thank you. With respect to my colleague, that is probably more my area. We have campaigned or been taking this issue forward, and I know this Committee has considered evidence in respect of this fairly recently. I still think that is a good idea to bring us in line with the levels identified in other Western European nations as being appropriate. It does not answer the question about enforcement, it merely sets a new threshold. In fact, my worry is about the level of drug-driving that we believe we are seeing and covering, and my concerns are about still the requirement to prove impairment rather than the fact that somebody merely has drugs in their body.
Q49 Graham Stringer: Can we stay with alcohol for a minute? You do not accept the argument that is being put forward by some people that if you lower the limit people would say: "I can't be bothered with that, I will have four or five pints rather than one", whereas they will try and stay below 80 micrograms?
Mr Hughes: No, I think it brings greater clarity. It reinforces the message that you should not drink and drive, and I think that is the only message that we can try and get out. I have sat down recently with the people who produce all the advertising material and we need to look again at how we get these messages out. It is almost as though we have a new generation of drivers and drinkers, and need to get that message back out. To try and answer your question, I think the clarity of saying: "Don't drink and drive", and the level is now so low that you cannot safely have one drink, would outweigh those who say: "In that case I can't be bothered".
Q50 Graham Stringer: That is interesting because the figures are going the wrong way.
Mr Hughes: They have bottomed, rather than going the wrong way, I think. We are not making the continued improvement we wanted to see.
Q51 Graham Stringer: Would you recommend, together with lowering the blood alcohol level, random breath-testing? Do you think that would have a dramatic impact on the figures?
Mr Hughes: Currently, our policy is that I believe we have the powers necessary to do all the tests that we would wish to.
Q52 Graham Stringer: Can you clarify what that means? Do you mean you can do random breath-testing?
Mr Hughes: No, it does not mean we can do random breath-testing but the law permits an officer with reasonable suspicion to ask a member of the motoring public to give a specimen of breath for a breath test, and I have never met a practical police officer yet who has found themselves unable to give a breath test when they felt one was necessary.
Q53 Graham Stringer: So what changes, apart from dropping the blood alcohol level, would you recommend to bring the number of drug related or alcohol related accidents down?
Mr Hughes: I would want to see some of the things that I brought in this year in taking up this post. We doubled the length of the Christmas drink-drive campaign in order to get the messages out early before the Christmas party season, as it were, started. I think we have an enforcement level that needs to be increased, and I think we should be running more of the campaigns. I do not think it needs to be too complex; I think we need to do more of the same things we are doing now. In addition, I think we should find new ways of getting the messages out to a new generation of drivers that it is part of the privilege of being a driver and part of the responsibility of being a good driver.
Q54 Graham Stringer: One last question on a completely different area. Mini motorcycles are becoming an increasing problem, in urban areas in particular. You look puzzled by that.
Mr Hughes: No, no, I have heard of them.
Q55 Graham Stringer: It is a general question. I think the problem is increasing. Do you believe that that the law applying to them is good enough, at the moment, or would you recommend changing the law?
Mr Hughes: It is some time since I have personally had to deal with a mini motorcyclist. My understanding from colleagues is that the law is clear that they are unlawful on the roads and enforcement action should be taken against them.
Chairman: I think, if you do not mind, we will leave it there.
Q56 Mr Goodwill: My question relates to motorcycles as well, where we see a disproportionate number of deaths and serious injuries in relation to the number of motorcycles on the road and the amount of use they get. Have you a particular strategy to try and address this problem, which seems to be one area of road safety which is not improving?
Mr Hughes: It is not improving. Can I just make clear that the quote attributed to me in this week's edition of Motorcycle News, where I allegedly say that "most born-again bikers are too old, too stupid or too stubborn to learn" is, in fact, inaccurate?
Q57 Graham Stringer: It sounds very accurate to me!
Mr Hughes: You may well think that, Mr Stringer, but it is not my position to say that. The purpose of me saying that is that I take the issue seriously and not flippantly. We have a number of road safety campaigns going on around the UK, which I hugely support. I think motorcyclists feel the frustration of being pent up in traffic conditions where they cannot ride safety and are as often the victims of other motorists as they are the originators of their own downfall. So it is not just a matter of educating motorcyclists about the use of their own vehicles but it is about continually educating other road users about the relatively vulnerable motorcyclist out on the highway. I think we need to do, again, more of the same. I am sorry if this sounds like a stunning lack of originality but when you have got something that will and should deliver results and you just need to do more of it, then that is the answer in the first case. I know how hard many of my colleagues work to meet up with groups of motorcyclists at the great honey-pots of summer motorcycling in the Yorkshire Dales and in Derbyshire and get the message across as to what their responsibilities are. In terms of enforcement, motorcyclists are subject to the same road laws as the rest of us.
Q58 Chairman: Chief Constable, you said the police have the power to carry out evidential testing for alcohol and drugs at the roadside but they are not using those powers. That is pretty astonishing, is it not? Is there a particular reason for that?
Mr Hughes: You have me slightly stumped in the sense that I do not understand the context of the comment. I am sorry; I am not trying to be evasive.
Q59 Chairman: Not just in relation to motorcyclists but in relation to road enforcement generally.
Mr Hughes: Officers showed a reluctance initially to use some of the fitness testing that accompanied the proving of somebody being impaired through drugs. Officers have the ability to test for drink-driving, and without further understanding of the context in which that comment was made I am at a loss. I apologise.
Q60 Chairman: ACPO says that the real issue with roadside testing is the cost; it costs in the region of 60K to type-approve a device and then people do not want to use them.
Mr Hughes: Right. Thank you.
Q61 Chairman: You are saying that you think that the Government should fund approval of roadside alcohol screeners. This must not only affect motorcyclists, this must affect all sorts of people.
Mr Hughes: This is not about the individual use of equipment by the roadside by individual officers; this is about the market developing new equipment that will allow officers to test for evidential breath-testing at the roadside. We seek to develop a new generation of equipment that will record more data at the roadside and will allow officers to immediately test for the level of alcohol as well as for the presence of alcohol. That item refers to the barriers to the production of that equipment by the manufacturing people; it does not relate to individual officers refusing to use the kit.
Q62 Mr Leech: Can I ask if you support the proposal in the Road Safety Bill for the introduction of graduated penalties?
Mr Hughes: I think "yes" is my short answer, with a huge degree of qualification, which you gathered from my hesitation at the start. I think we have to be very careful with messages that we send out around roads policing, and things that will look like diminution of how seriously we take these matters. However, I think we should recognise that there are scales and degrees of culpability and include that in the law.
Q63 Chairman: Can I ask you to what extent should Police Support Officers be empowered to issue Section 59 notices and other fines for motoring?
Mr Hughes: Again, it is how you do it. I am a great believer in keeping Police Support Officers distinctively different to police officers. My greatest concern is about giving such people the power of detention. Leaving that aside, there is a whole range of other powers which I think it is entirely fair that they have. What that one would involve, however, is training them and equipping them to effectively and safely stop vehicles before you do anything else. I think, therefore, we should treat that with a degree of caution.
Q64 Mr Leech: What do you think the likely outcome of reducing the points from three to two for people speeding, up to 39 miles an hour in a 30 zone, will be?
Mr Hughes: I do not know the answer to that. I do not claim any great vision of the future. Those who have researched the issue say that this is a good thing in making the law more acceptable to the public and, therefore, more likely to be complied with. I cannot judge any more accurately the specific likelihood.
Q65 Chairman: Mr Jones, we are running out of time and I have some questions for you. Not all police forces have adopted this Roads Policing Strategy, have they, and yet you have actually said that they ought to in order to receive a fair grading. Why were not any forces graded as poor in your baseline assessment?
Mr Jones: What they have not done is adopt everything in there. All of them have adopted parts of it, so we have had to look at it there. You could not grade any force as "poor" if they have put most of what they think they should do in. What they have done is made sure, as I say, again, it has gone right into the core policing and gone into the areas that we have asked them to do.
Q66 Chairman: You talk about intelligence and information being weak in relation to roads policing. How can that be improved?
Mr Jones: Again, to qualify that, when we say it is weak, there is intelligence being used in there; it is not being used across the board, so it has not been integrated with, say, the criminal processes as well. So you may get intelligence just on roads policing per se but it is not being integrated into, say, the terrorist side of it, the intelligence and tasking process, or into the criminal areas, and what we wanted to see is that it is actually used so that the resources that it requires, or anything else requires, are prioritised. At the moment that is not being done, so it is not something that is in sequence, it is something that sits to one side.
Q67 Chairman: I think I might understand that but I find it a bit confusing. Why did you, when you called for a skills audit of every single force in the 1998 inspection reports, not follow this up? Has it taken place?
Mr Jones: I could not tell you whether it has taken place. What I can tell you is that looking at the skills that are required for a traffic or a roads policing officer there is an awful lot of development going on there. They are being trained in specific skills areas - i.e. the investigation of fatal or serious accidents all the way through into care for the victims' families as well, right the way through to how they actually inspect, shall we say, heavy ----
Q68 Chairman: Mr Jones, we are told that every force should complete a skills audit because there is evidence that where the more specialised traffic functions are devolved over time some degradation of officers' specialist skills occurs. "Only after such an audit can training be based on a business case and delivered to maximum effect". What did you mean by that?
Mr Jones: It means that you have to look at what do we require from our officers, and specifically what kind of specialist areas. I know that forces ----
Q69 Chairman: You were saying, in 1998, that you did not know where they were and what they are doing. I want to know whether, in fact, you followed that up.
Mr Jones: Yes, I am certain we have. If you look at the baseline, where we have put the baseline is looking at those very areas. We are looking at: have they skilled their officers up? Are they developed? Are they trained and retrained so that when new technology comes in, new investigation issues come in and new manuals come in they are trained in it? I can say that they absolutely are because we look at that every year.
Q70 Chairman: The 1998 report raised concerns over the use of ANPR and reliance on out-of-date data. Has that been resolved?
Mr Jones: Yes, it has.
Q71 Chairman: Is the Police Computer directly connected with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency database?
Mr Hughes: Yes, it is.
Q72 Chairman: It is. So it works efficiently?
Mr Hughes: Yes. It is also connected, and I led the project for ACPO, to the motor insurance database. The MOT database comes on line and it is improving all the time.
Q73 Chairman: To what extent are civil liberties concerns raised by the use of technology such as Automatic Number Plate Recognition and black box recorders?
Mr Hughes: I think the civil liberties argument is in favour of using Automatic Number Plate Recognition. It removes discretion from officers at times as to which vehicle they stop by giving them a clear indicator of which vehicles are more likely to yield a criminals than others. That has two impacts: first of all, it focuses them on those most likely to be criminals and, secondly, allows the law-abiding motorist unimpeded progression and saves them having to produce all their documents at a police station. So I think there are civil liberty benefits through the use of ANPR.
Q74 Chairman: Have you solved the problem of cloned number plates?
Mr Hughes: No, but DVLA is currently doing more research on that to chip number plates in order to cut down the problem. Humans will never entirely solve something by technology because somebody else will come up with a way of getting round it. So it is a battle you keep fighting; we will come back in ten years and we will still be fighting that battle.
Q75 Chairman: Mr Jones, in general terms, there was a call for hypothecation of camera fine revenues, and this of course has been altered recently. What is the view of the Inspectorate?
Mr Jones: I think we broadly support it, but with all things to do with hypothecation, and we have had the discussion earlier on, it is where does the revenue go? Where is it going? Is it going back into the local areas? Is it going back into enforcement, roads policing and prevention? Or does it go elsewhere? Our view on hypothecation is it should come back to assist the service in the areas we need it.
Q76 Chairman: Chief Constable, finally, is it your view that traffic policing is given its due weight across the 43 forces? Is it your view that an agreed policy can be, at least, enunciated to make it clear that this is a matter of saving lives every day, not just occasionally?
Mr Hughes: No, I do not think enough weight is given to roads policing and enforcement across the whole 43. I think there is a great deal more to be done. That is against the background of the fact that we try and do so much in terms of all the other aspects of core policing as well. Do I believe that a clear policy can be enunciated? Yes, it can. We have issued the strategy, that is clear, but we live in a world where there are strategies for everything and the Roads Policing Strategy document is one of a number that are out there trying to guide policing. Perhaps changes in the structure of the police service will bring greater clarity.
Q77 Chairman: Is it enough just to give three weeks' training to road death investigators?
Mr Hughes: It depends on the contents of the three weeks' training. I opened my last course in South Yorkshire Police and the syllabus was comprehensive and very detailed. The feedback of the officers at the conclusion of that was that they had all the skills necessary. You can fit an awful lot in three weeks.
Q78 Chairman: So we could actually shorten the training of police officers quite markedly if we gave them six months ----
Mr Hughes: You can, Chairman, but the Federation are on later and they will probably tell you that everything needs more training.
Q79 Chairman: Stick with your own questions, Chief Constable; you will not get in trouble.
Mr Hughes: I am in enough trouble.
Chairman: Can I thank you both very much.
Memoranda submitted by RoadPeace, Brake, Slower Speeds Initiative,
RAC Foundation for Motoring and the Freight Transport Association
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Ms Cynthia Barlow, Trustee, RoadPeace, Ms Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive, Brake, Ms Paige Mitchell, Co-ordinator, Slower Speeds Initiative, Mr Kevin Delaney, Head of Traffic and Road Safety, RAC Foundation for Motoring and Mr Malcolm Bingham, Heads of Roads and Traffic Management, Freight Transport Association gave evidence.
Q80 Chairman: Good afternoon to you all. May I ask you, firstly, to identify yourselves for the record, starting from my left and your right?
Ms Barlow: I am Cynthia Barlow from RoadPeace.
Ms Williams: I am Mary Williams from Brake.
Ms Mitchell: Paige Mitchell from the Slower Speeds Initiative.
Mr Delaney: Kevin Delaney from the RAC Foundation.
Mr Bingham: Malcolm Bingham from the Freight Transport Association.
Q81 Chairman: We are very grateful to you for coming this afternoon. I think, possibly, we will from time to time ask individual questions - as you are quite a broad range - of individual people, but if you want to chip in by all means do. Does anybody have anything they want to say very briefly? Can we then start with questions. Can I ask about the Roads Policing Strategy. How important is visible traffic policing?
Mr Delaney: Madam Chairman, I think it is difficult to under-estimate the importance of visible traffic policing; it provides a deterrent for those who may want to break the law and it provides reassurance for the vast majority of otherwise law-abiding motorists.
Q82 Chairman: Have the police got the balance right between officer-led enforcement and technology-led enforcement?
Mr Bingham: I think, Madam Chairman, it is always the difficulty of a balance. Certainly in our industry we recognise that and agree with Mr Delaney's comment about visible enforcement and the encouragement that it gives to industry operators if there is a police influence there.
Q83 Chairman: Are you saying, Mr Bingham, that they have got it right or they have not got it right?
Mr Bingham: I think there are difficulties with it that the police, for some years, have been concentrating, we believe, on detecting crime and less and less, on a scale, on the enforcement of road traffic issues. Therefore, we believe that there is a gap that we need to bridge with some form of technology to help that issue.
Q84 Chairman: Do you think there is enough money given to traffic law enforcement?
Ms Mitchell: No.
Ms Williams: No. I think to say: "Is there an appropriate balance between technology and visible road policing?" is actually a bit of a moot question because there is not enough of either. We have, as was just said by Mr Hughes earlier, actually - although you would not believe it from the tabloid press - a very small proportion of our roads covered with speed cameras. There are so many other bits of technology that can be implemented that probably more than one person on this panel would welcome, such as intelligent speed adaptation, where speed limits are controlled through satellites when you enter a new zone. There is great scope for technology, and we should welcome that technology because, as Mr Hughes said, it frees up police time. Yet, at the same time, he said he would not welcome more cameras. I think there would be many road safety lobbyists that would welcome both more technology and more road policing.
Q85 Chairman: In general terms, the Roads Policing Strategy is a year old. What impact do you think it has made?
Ms Williams: I think it is very hard to judge. If you look at the strategy, at the back of it, it has number 27; it says that: "The objective will therefore be to develop indicators of outcome", and that it will, hopefully, require forces to have such indicators, such as the proportion of breath tests following collisions. So if a force had a problem - all forces have a problem with drink-driving and drug-driving - we would be able to audit what they were doing in terms of numbers of breath tests, and perhaps they could be given targets for increased numbers of breath tests the following year. I did talk to Mr Hughes about that issue, and they have yet to develop such outcomes because, obviously, they are at the beginning of the strategy. However, I think that is absolutely essential.
Q86 Mrs Ellman: We were told just a few minutes ago by ACPO that there does not seem to be public pressure for roads policing. I wonder how you might react to that.
Ms Mitchell: I think that we need to have much more reliable surveys. Certainly the people who contact us want to see more roads policing, and they want to see more action by the police on existing limits, and also more support from the police on lowering limits where they live. There is an indication that speeding is considered a most important form of anti-social behaviour. That was in a study by the British Crime Survey and in some of the earlier studies of youth satisfaction. One thing the Crime and Disorder Act saw was the development of crime and disorder strategies, which saw people given the opportunity to register road safety as a major concern. I live in Herefordshire and that happened and road safety is now a primary issue in the crime and disorder strategy, so I think that we are getting very mixed messages and that may be based on the survey methodology.
Mr Delaney: Madam Chairman, I am not sure that we are getting mixed messages. Everybody who talks to me says that they want to see more visible policing on the roads. I have some difficulty in differentiating between a white police car and a yellow speed camera but that is because of my background. Undoubtedly, the message that I get from road users is that they would want to see more visible policing concentrating on - I say concentrating but at least giving a fair amount of time to - the most serious offences. I think this is one of the problems that we have got into, that the technology actually allows concentration on things such as speed which can be done by cameras, or offences such as not wearing seat belts or using mobile phones which will require very little in terms of skill and expertise, so these are enforced proactively, whereas the most serious motoring offences - careless driving, dangerous driving and drink driving - tend to be enforced reactively, namely after a crash. This certainly seems to be something which concerns most of the motorists who get in touch with me.
Ms Mitchell: I would just like to come in on that. First of all, we know that most of the cameras are being employed on a post hoc basis which given the speed/crash relationship is not necessary. That is number one. Secondly, speeding is by far and away the most important contributor to road casualties, particularly the severe ones, and if we are looking at effective use of public resources then it makes perfectly good sense to get as wide compliance with speed limits as we possibly can. We also know that the public has not been very well informed on the risks of speeding. So the high support for more enforcement under the present circumstances is actually quite a testimony to the way people feel about it.
Q87 Chairman: Wait a minute, I am sorry, forgive me for interrupting Mrs Ellman, but they have not been informed? You mean with over 3,000 people killed every year the public does not connect speeding and death?
Ms Mitchell: I do not think the public know that. I have done some focus group work with people and what is striking is, number one, they are appalled when they find out the level of casualties and they make frequent reference to things like the Twin Towers. Number two, they are also quite worried about the types of road casualty reduction targets that we have. One of the things that is interesting about the way we operate the system at the moment is that those targets are decided by boffins in back rooms, and I think the majority of the public actually would go for much more stringent targets if they knew a) that they could have a hand in it and b) that there was some way of using technology and policing effectively to bring casualties down.
Ms Williams: If I can say a word about education. I am looking at the DfT's timetable for television advertising on the topic of speed page, and I am seeing that they have got a week in May and two weeks in June. If that is combined with all the other areas such as child car seats - and the rules have been changed on child car seats as we know in a few weeks and in fact there is no television advertising on that at all - the levels of television advertising on road safety matters do not support enforcement and certainly there is no campaign saying "Beware: you will be caught", because of course roads policing is too minimal so we cannot tie up the two things anyway, but there is a very low level of education in terms of television spend. I think if you talked to the DfT publicity unit then they would tell you that they would like more money.
Ms Mitchell: Speeding is the most common motoring crime. It is being carried out by people a lot of whom do not believe it is a crime or do not believe that their speeding is a crime. They are doing it under conditions in which they are told that speeding is exciting and something that they can control. That is the message that the car gives them. So the need to educate people about the underlying risks, the scale of the risks of speeding and how risks are elevated by relatively minor infractions and violations is a continuing need.
Ms Barlow: I think it is true that the general public does not know enough about road casualties and road deaths. They are really not aware of the extent of the problem. They should be because I think they need to make decisions about funding in that the probable cost of each death is about £1.5 million. When you talk of the families, the coroner, the police, the courts, everything, it is about £1.5 million. The Health Service could make better use of that money if it was not caring for casualties. Could I just say one more thing about the need in terms of the connection and the link between technology and policing. Could we have more firmness in this? I know so many cases where families have done their own investigation because the police have not followed up CCTV, where families have got their own witness statements, and so on. We need to be in a situation whereby the evidence that is got from technology is absolutely reliable and firm and incontestable, which is not the case at the moment. People have disputed speed and they have disputed the tachograph, so we need to get them right. Also, I spoke recently to a solicitor from a firm up north which has become famous for exploiting loopholes. They have a very high success rate in getting people off traffic offences and they have a long list of celebrity and footballer clients. Could I just say that from my own experience in my daughter's case - my daughter was killed by a lorry - it is not that difficult to find loopholes in the prosecution and investigation because the standard is simply not high enough. Again, we need to produce a situation where the evidence and the procedures are absolutely spot-on so there could be no doubt at all.
Q88 Mrs Ellman: Brake gave evidence saying that there should be more monitoring at a local level and more information. Does everyone agree with that?
Ms Williams: I am sorry, I cannot hear you.
Q89 Mrs Ellman: Brake said there should be more police monitoring of accidents and enforcement at a local level. Does everybody think that would help in informing people better of what is happening?
Ms Mitchell: One of the things I find very interesting about the way we operate the transport system is that we collect data on almost everything apart from speed. We know that speed is a big factor but local authorities generally only collect data on speed when there has been a crash or when there is an evident problem. That means they do not have a good idea about the level of risks across the road network and if that were monitored and there were performance indictors - and I appreciate the problem about too much coming down on the backs of police - for speed limit compliance, I think we would see much more effective use of technology and a much more proactive and preventative approach to road casualties.
Ms Williams: To qualify that, of course my comment referred to a broader spectrum than just speed, although I totally concur that speed is the most important, but in particular things like alcohol and drugs can be monitored and monitored in a really quite straightforward way. For example, if we look at commercial vehicle enforcement, VOSA, the agency with responsibility for commercial vehicle enforcement, does an annual compliance check where they go out and they randomly look at people across the fleet. What a good idea. Unfortunately, it shows that it has still got very high rates of poor compliance in that industry. This is what we need and we definitely need it on a force-by-force basis.
Q90 Mrs Ellman: Are speed cameras effectively reducing casualties?
Mr Delaney: Yes, to put it bluntly, they are. If you put a speed camera at the side of the road you will do two things. You will reduce the speed of vehicles going past that point and you will certainly reduce the severity, if not necessarily the frequency, of crashes. I think the problem with speed cameras is that their effect is limited to the point where they are situated. Sometimes that is a problem of the decision as to what technology to introduce. You may have a much wider area problem than one speed camera will deal with. Sometimes it is simply a product of the fact that the message about speed has not been properly got across.
Mr Bingham: If I may add to that. We believe that there is an issue about understanding what the speed limit is about. The speed cameras in one sense do flag up the fact there is a problem area but very often motorists forget what the actual speed is in that area. There may be a speed camera but they do not always associate the speed limit with that area. We have submitted on several occasions that there should be more effective signing around those areas to make sure that drivers are more aware and, coupled with that, a more consistent approach to the laying down of speed limits in different areas, to make sure that the motorists are assured that they are within the legal bands.
Q91 Mrs Ellman: Is there enough flexibility now for siting speed cameras where there have been injuries without waiting for more deaths?
Ms Williams: The rules are about to change on that but at the moment it requires a certain number of casualties within x number of years (either three or four years) but that requirement is absolutely horrendous. If you tell a community that until they have sacrificed their children's lives or injured them they cannot have a camera outside their school or their community, they are not desperately happy about that.
Ms Mitchell: I would answer that with two points. One, when you ask whether speed cameras are effective why do you not also ask is there anything that is more effective, and as far as we know in terms of casualty reduction there is not. Education and all the other things which are proposed do not actually stand up as well as speed control techniques of which the speed camera is one of the most cost-effective. When you ask about the casualty criteria for location, I think the question has to be what is the rationale for it, and the only rationale for it, as far as I can understand it, is in the development of the netting off programme they have had to find some kind of way of containing the coverage of speed cameras and making them politically popular, not by explaining what they were for but by trying to limit the number of people who would be affected by them. That is the only rationale for asking people to die or be seriously injured before you enforce the law that applies for protecting everyone on the public highway.
Chairman: I think Mr Martlew had something he wanted to ask on that.
Q92 Mr Martlew: Just the point that was made about the lack of speed limit signs. I bought a new car and it has the technology that tells me when I am coming to a speed camera. Is the reality that that is the way forward, that new technology should be introduced into every vehicle that will a) control speed and b) tell me what the speed limit is in their area?
Mr Bingham: I think one of the difficulties with some of the technology round about controlling vehicle speed is very often some drivers start to rely on that a little bit too much and it is not always the speed limit that is the issue. Sometimes you need to worry about other things that are on the road as well. I think that there is a combination of issues that you can put into place. Certainly things like cruise control have been fitted to a lot of heavy goods vehicles for some while but it is particularly for things for long distance drivers when they are on open roads and motorways.
Q93 Mr Martlew: But would you not welcome the introduction of this new technology? Obviously vehicles have a speed limit on them of the maximum in the country but what about variable speed limits for various roads?
Mr Bingham: As an Association we would welcome any device that is going to help with control as long as it does not put the driver into a situation where they are thinking they have got something that is going to keep them safe that effectively does not in certain circumstances.
Mr Delaney: Can I add to that. I think when we are talking about technology, at the moment we have become focused on technology as part of an enforcement programme. Technology has got a huge role to play in all sorts of other things. For example, the work being done at Leeds University on detecting the independent speed of monitors would actually prevent drivers from exceeding the speed limit. It not only tells you what the speed limit is, it prevents you from exceeding the speed limit. I accept that that does not necessarily equate to a safe drive - it is possible to drive dangerously and not exceed the speed limit - but it actually removes certain elements from the equation. In addition, there is equipment that is being developed and tested that would actually prevent drivers from starting the car when they get behind the wheel having taken too much alcohol, or perhaps any alcohol at all. That could be developed to include drugs as well. So technology does have a huge role to play and I am not sitting here making a case for the old-fashioned copper (of whom I was one) against modern technology. What I am here making a case for, I hope, is a proper balance between the two.
Q94 Mr Martlew: I think that is very useful. Coming back to Mr Bingham, there has been an announcement today about foreign vehicles from the Department for Transport. Recently on a long journey I started to count them and I gave up because there were so many. Is there a specific problem with foreign vehicles with regard to road safety?
Mr Bingham: We commissioned a study recently with the Road Haulage Association called the Burns Inquiry, which was looking primarily at freight taxes, but one of the major issues that came out of that was the unfair competition element of foreign haulage and some of the standards that those hauliers work to. We have a tremendous system in the United Kingdom called the Operator Licensing System that looks to provide a safe system of operating commercial vehicles in the United Kingdom, but those foreign hauliers do not have to comply with that system and sometimes are not aware of the standards that we impose on our roads, and therefore it is one of the elements that we have looked at where we think technology can play a tremendous role. We welcomed the announcement from the Department for Transport earlier on about some funding for wave and motion sensors on the roads from the ports and indeed coupled with that automatic number plate readers. Where we have another problem is where our operators are all registered and can be recognised by the enforcement authorities; the foreign operators are not. We have a difficulty with that and we believe it will take some time, even within Europe, to get that as a standard, and we need to put something into place before that European initiative comes into being, and this form of enforcement is the method to facilitate that.
Q95 Mrs Ellman: Mr Bingham, would you say there is any conflict between national competitiveness and speed limit enforcement as an issue?
Mr Bingham: I think our issue is on a broader range than speed but I think speed is an element of that. If you have a system that allows drivers to speed to make up time, for example, as an issue, and we know that that is an issue both internationally and nationally, then it can create a conflict, and most operators in the United Kingdom that want to comply with the Operator Licensing System and keep their businesses running, control their drivers in that way. Where you have got unfair competition, whether it is for speed or other things, then there is a problem.
Q96 Chairman: The difficulty, Mr Bingham, is that I have got a case where the firm concerned, which is a very large concern, of course contracts this out and has really given instructions to the driver not to do certain things and not to drive down certain roads, but then they have to do a certain number of runs per night and they can only do them at a particular speed. Until we can get the employers to get their views sorted out are we not going to face this constant opposing pressure?
Mr Bingham: I think there is an issue with that and the industry is aware of it. In fact, we have had long discussions as part of that Burns Inquiry and some of the evidence that came up through that. I think there is a growing awareness within the industry that there needs to be a more rational approach to the way that operations are run, to comply with time constraints in many ways, and a lot of it is perhaps created by unreliable journeys and all the rest of it that operators have to deal with. If we can look at this enforcement technology to try and put the message across that any infringement of the rules is not only a problem for society in the UK but a problem for the industry as well, I think we will move forward.
Mr Delaney: Madam Chairman, could I say another approach to it would be to create an offence of corporate manslaughter, which would effectively deal ---
Chairman: Well, Mr Delaney, we have made that recommendation and we are not going down that road. As you know, we have strong views here and we will continue to push them. Now I am sorry, I am going to move on to Mr Efford.
Q97 Clive Efford: Can I just clarify something Mr Bingham said earlier on about cameras and signage. Are you saying that you would remove cameras in favour of improved signage?
Mr Bingham: No, I am suggesting that we couple the two together so that the signage is more obvious to drivers, together with the cameras, so that drivers will know what speed limit they are in. Very often, particularly in 30 mile an hour speed limits, that signage is not there. I know the Department has issued guidance to local authorities lately that they can put extra signs up in 30 mile an hour limits but it is a slow process putting that in place. We have suggested that if there is a camera why not put the speed limit on the camera and then everybody knows what the speed limit is.
Q98 Clive Efford: A driver should not be on the road if he does not know the speed limits.
Mr Bingham: I accept that but very often you get speed limits, particularly in urban areas, which are very variable.
Q99 Clive Efford: Mr Delaney, would drivers rather other methods of speed enforcement were used than cameras such as traffic management measures?
Mr Delaney: From the approaches I get the problem seems to be the concentration, if you like, on cameras, to the apparent - and I do stress apparent - exclusion of other methods. So I think what drivers would want is a broad mix of measures. There are some drivers out there who would want no enforcement whatsoever and I hold no brief there. Drivers tend to want a broad mix of measures. They want speed to be dealt with by a variety of methods. Some of them would probably even, dare I say, welcome the introduction of ISA.
Q100 Clive Efford: ISA being?
Mr Delaney: Intelligent speed adaptation. Some of them would probably welcome it. What drivers want is a broad mix of effective traffic management, including enforcement.
Q101 Clive Efford: I just wanted to ask you, Mr Delaney, I hear a lot of car driver lobby groups make that argument, but in practice it does not seem to make any sense to me because we do not tend to see road cameras down residential roads, they tend to be on main roads where you would not have any other method of traffic management to reduce speed. Is that not true?
Mr Delaney: I accept that. Human beings are not always logical.
Q102 Clive Efford: Car drivers perhaps more than others.
Ms Williams: I think that adds to what I was going to say, which is that in those residential areas we do of course need to see a mix of measures, which does include the other aspect we have not talked about which is engineering. There would need to be, for example, school safety zones and residential safety zones. We have pockets of pilot home zones around the UK but we do not see these rolled out routinely across communities like other European countries such as the Netherlands. We do not see safety zones outside all schools where we have reduced the limit to 20 miles an hour, which would be common in other European countries. We do not even have crossings outside some schools and outside some schools we cannot even recruit school crossing patrols because it is just too dangerous. You do need that combination of measures because I do think that does help a driver to understand why there is a camera there, and hopefully in future it will be possible to put a camera there and there will not be these ridiculous rules on casualties.
Q103 Clive Efford: The most dangerous drivers outside all my schools are the parents.
Ms Williams: I am not arguing with that and of course we need to get parents outside their cars and walking to schools.
Q104 Clive Efford: They seem to think that the yellow zigzag lines are there just to create their own private parking space. 20 mile per hour zones are being rolled out. Do you have any view on how that is going?
Ms Barlow: One of the problems with 20 mile per hour zones is that local authorities have been given the power to implement them but the Department for Transport has not retained the responsibility to audit how many there are. We are about to do a survey on this issue, but certainly there are many local authorities who are not rolling out 20 mile per hour zones.
Ms Mitchell: We have done some work on that in development, and the aspirations of local authorities - and we did a pretty broad coverage of the entire UK - are extremely limited in comparison to practice on the Continent. This was established by the Commission for Integrated Transport European Best Practice Survey about six years ago. In the cities where cycling, walking and public transport are high in the priorities of mode choice there is usually a blanket area coverage of 20 mile per hour speed limits, 30 kph, and in the best practice areas it is about 55 to 80 per cent of the road network. Our most widely covered city now is about 26 per cent and that is Kingston-upon-Hull. Most authorities are looking at around 15 per cent of the network in 15 years and that is mainly restricted to residential roads. One of the problems is the expense of engineering measures, which would be reduced if cameras could be used to enforce 20 mile per hour speed limits. The other problem is that we do not give enough money to road safety spending anyway. It needs to have a much higher priority in the transport budget because it has got one of the highest rates of return, if nothing else.
Q105 Clive Efford: Ms Barlow, you said earlier on that you felt that it was too easy for people to avoid conviction for speeding on roads.
Ms Barlow: Yes.
Q106 Mr Efford: I was quite intrigued by that comment. Could you briefly set out for us where you think we could tighten up on the enforcement through the courts?.
Ms Barlow: This particular firm that I spoke to a couple of weeks ago managed to find very tiny loopholes in the way evidence is gathered, the way samples are taken, those sorts of things, which are enough for a case to be thrown out. This particular firm, as I said, has got a very high success rate which inevitably runs alongside a very low success rate in terms of the Crown Prosecution Service, so I do think that there is a lot of work to be done on just making sure that all the systems are properly monitored and properly followed so that people are not able to get off serious driving charges just on the basis of procedural irregularity. It is a nonsense. Could I just say I would be grateful if all of the motoring organisations could be persuaded to take a much more responsible approach to behaviour on the roads, in the sense that speeding is the leading one, but so many people seem to regard being caught for speeding as simply being unlucky rather than breaking the law, and that same attitude is going in other directions as well. We know that there are prosecutions for manslaughter cases on the books where firms are regularly forcing their drivers to exceed the proper number of hours. We know that there is a very high percentage in the road haulage industry of drivers falling asleep at the wheel. There are things that you can do about that but it depends on everybody who uses the roads accepting their responsibility for the rights of other road users, and at the moment they are not; it is a very selfish attitude.
Ms Williams: If I can add to Cynthia's comments with some figures on driver tiredness, for example. In the basic compliance check in 2003-04, which is the latest one I have got here, more than one in five trucks had paperwork offences and the biggest set of breaches was drivers' hours rules. To talk about how enforcement has increased in this area (because today is about enforcement and technology) there has been a slight increase in the last decade in the number of traffic examiners who do enforcement for drivers' hours rules, but only by 36 officers for the whole of the UK. It is my understanding from liaising with VOSA and other agencies that this is a major area of concern. There are fleets in the UK which are doing enormous good works to improve their risk management in all sorts of ways, to make sure their drivers are not tired or are not stressed and do not have other medical problems or whatever, but there is still a significant proportion of the industry that needs to be tackled with significantly more enforcement, and I think it is important for this inquiry to remember VOSA's enforcement levels, as I am sure you will be doing.
Mr Bingham: Could I pick up on that because there were several obvious references to the industry. The Freight Transport Association some years ago won the Prince Michael Award for Safety for the fatigue campaign which they ran with a number of police forces across the country. What I am trying to say is that as a trade association and as a motoring organisation we do take these things seriously. We have had campaigns on drink and drugs. We have had campaigns on speed. We have had a campaign called "Well Driven". We had a campaign last year to try and reduce the number of bridge strikes across the country, which is a problem area. We do take all these issues seriously. Statistically, HGVs are the safest vehicles on the road and that is not our statistics, that is Department for Transport statistics. The FTA has been working with VOSA for a while now on a number of service level agreements on speed enforcement, initially on depot enforcement but now on roadside enforcement, and we are aware of problem areas. What we believe VOSA needs to do (we believe that VOSA thinks this as well but they may need to answer that) is to more effectively target their enforcement. You will inevitably get some figures that come out of that as a result of that which will show high infringements because they are targeting their enforcement more effectively.
Ms Williams: This is the compliance check I am talking about. It is the random testing check I am talking about.
Chairman: I think we ought not to disagree amongst ourselves when things are going well! Have a go at the ones who are not here who are not concerned. Certainly the road industry generally needs to accept that good enforcement protects them and it is to their benefit for the same reason that we are so concerned about corporate manslaughter. We are not ever in this House, I hope, producing laws for the good but for those who, frankly, who are not always good. Mr Goodwill?
Q107 Mr Goodwill: I have got two questions. First of all to Mrs Mitchell with regard to the 20 mile per hour limit. Do you think we will be able to secure more 20 mile per hour limits and motorists would respect them more if they were made time-limited so they did apply at 2 o'clock in the morning but did apply when children were arriving at school?
Ms Mitchell: No because I think variable speed limits are confusing. I also think that vulnerable road users (who are not just children) should have the right to use the highway any time they like, just like drivers can. There is really no reason to go much faster than 20 miles an hour in built-up areas. I think there is some indication that there is already quite a lot of support for 20 mile per hour speed limits. There was some work done in a survey in London which found very high support (I think around 78 per cent) which went up when people learned more about the casualty severity that surrounds collisions in urban areas, and there is also some evidence that motorists themselves think that 30 miles an hour is too high. I think we need to be clear about what we are trying to do in transport systems, clear about the role of speed in doing that, clear about equity on the road network and exposure to death and injury and how that affects the decisions we make, and then explain to people why we are doing things, and then find out what kind of problems we have after that.
Ms Williams: That is right. We should not be curfewing vulnerable road users and we should not be legitimising any argument that, "Oh well, it was late at night and no-one was about - apart from that drunk bloke I happened to hit."
Q108 Mr Goodwill: A question to Mr Bingham: a lot of the accidents that occur, for example on the A64 in North Yorkshire, are due to dangerous overtaking. Correct me if I am wrong but the speed limit for HGVs on single carriageway trunk roads is only 40 miles an hour which means there is a lot of frustration from motorists travelling behind those vehicles. Given the better technology in trucks and better braking systems et cetera, and given that actually quite a lot of trucks are travelling at 50 anyway, do you think there is some argument to increase the speed limit for trucks on trunks roads or A roads from 40 to 50?
Mr Bingham: We had a discussion on this internally within the Association a year ago and I think there are arguments on both sides, but the main argument I seem to get is from car drivers who have a problem overtaking trucks rather than truck drivers who are trying to stick to speed limits. I accept that sometimes that does not happen as well and that could be dealt with in-vehicle technology. It is a very difficult argument to argue about increasing speed limits and the Freight Transport Association is on record that we do not necessarily agree with that stance.
Chairman: Thank you very much. Mr Martlew?
Q109 Mr Martlew: Just on the 20 mile per hour limit, would it not be a better system if we presumed that all roads are 20 miles an hour unless they are signed differently?
Ms Mitchell: Yes that is what we think.
Q110 Mr Martlew: For example, on residential areas it would be unless there was a 30 mile an hour sign, and that would be a way to bring it in throughout this country?
Ms Mitchell: That is right. We think that should be the default limit, and that there are roads which could stand a higher limit but only if there was provision made along the road for cyclists and pedestrians.
Q111 Chairman: We have very little time so I am going to ask a few questions quite quickly. In France, drivers are notified within 48 hours of their speeding offence. Is that a good idea?
Ms Mitchell: We think it is.
Ms Barlow: Yes.
Q112 Chairman: Have you made any assessment at all of how much that would cost?
Ms Mitchell: No, but digital systems tend to be cheaper though.
Q113 Chairman: I see. Are you satisfied that the police have made progress in the use of data recorders in crash investigations?
Ms Mitchell: No.
Q114 Chairman: So what is wrong?
Ms Mitchell: Well, there are several problems.
Q115 Chairman: They are not going fast enough?
Ms Mitchell: On the data recorders there is a problem about accessing the data because it is not consistent and as far as I know from TRL - this is simply a personal communication - it is very, very difficult to get EDR data from a vehicle and it is usually only in a very high profile crash, and it is expensive.
Q116 Chairman: So we are suggesting that that should be an area that ought to be actually investigated more energetically?
Ms Mitchell: Absolutely, yes.
Q117 Chairman: Fatigue please, gentlemen. What role should technology play in preventing fatigue-related crashes?
Mr Delaney: Before we get to the technology, I think there is a big role here for education. What we need to do is to explain to people that whilst it is alright to feel tired when you are on a train, it is alright to fall asleep in front of the television; fatigue is a killer when you are behind the wheel of a car. Far, far too many people are out there driving on the roads when they should actually be doing anything other than being behind the wheel of a car, and that is a message we have not begun to get across yet. We need to begin with education and then thereafter technology does have a role. Technology can detect such things as eye movements and lack of eye movements and so on and so forth. Technology can intervene, but, if you like, that is almost too late. The big battle is to get across to drivers the importance of fatigue. Far too many drivers believe that you are tired when you actually start to nod off whereas the reality is that you have become tired anything up to an hour before then.
Ms Barlow: Could I just say that one of the trade unions is trying to persuade the freight transport industry to adopt sleep apnoea testing for drivers, to do routine, periodic testing for obstructive sleep apnoea, because this is known to be a particular illness that drivers are prone to. Because of the sedentary nature of their job they are more likely to have extra weight on the waist and extra weight on the neck and therefore are more likely to suffer from obstructive sleep apnoea and the firms have got to be responsible for periodic testing of drivers for that.
Q118 Chairman: Thank you very much. Can I ask the FTA finally what do you mean by "aligning policing the road network on the same basis as management of the network" ?
Mr Bingham: We have a national strategic road network operated by the Highways Agency. We have seen different standards applied across the country, or at least our members see that, of different police forces and different emphases on the way that they are enforcing road traffic issues. What we would like to see is an alignment across that strategic network, at the very least amongst the police forces to have a standard that is recognised throughout the country. I think that is a matter of putting together best practice in certain areas, and perhaps there is a role for ACPO to play as the advisers to the police forces, and the freight industry can certainly play a part in it with its experience of different standards.
Chairman: Thank you very much. Can I just apologise to you all if we do seem to be rushing a bit this afternoon and explain that your evidence is of great importance and it is not to be regarded as being an indication that we are not taking you very seriously indeed. I am very grateful to you all. Thank you for coming.
Memoranda submitted by Police Federation and Police Superintendents' Association
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: Chief Inspector Jan Berry, Kent Police, Chairman, Police Federation of England and Wales; and Chief Superintendent Derek Barnett, Cheshire Constabulary, Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, gave evidence.
Q119 Chairman: Good afternoon, thank you for being patient. Could I explain to you that being the "tail-end Charlie" in this inquiry is not to be taken as any indication of how important you are! Can I ask you to introduce yourselves for the record.
Chief Inspector Berry: My name is Jan Berry and I am the Chairman of the Police Federation.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Good afternoon. I am Derek Barnett, the Chief Superintendent from Cheshire Constabulary and representing the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales.
Q120 Chairman: Could I just explain I am not responsible for choosing the witnesses, should any accusations of fix be made at any point! Can I ask you both what evidence you have that traffic policing is in decline?
Chief Inspector Berry: I think that some of our colleagues on roads policing find they have less support today than they ever had previously. Although some levels of training are right, some levels of training are not, and I think that is an element of support they feel they need. More than anything else, we have had a National Policing Plan now for several years and 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 (because I think policing goes beyond that sometimes and some of the difficult things to count do not get valued particularly well) you do need to have a measurement if roads policing is going to be taken seriously.
Q121 Chairman: That is very interesting because the thing that you may have heard earlier on is since there is not an agreed definition of what constitutes a roads police officer, is it possible to do an accurate assessment? I do not know whether you were here when you heard the Chief Constable's evidence where he said that road traffic policing may frequently be a secondary function and therefore it is difficult to assume - he did not put it in quite these terms but what he meant was it is difficult to assume who is doing what. If that is the case, then how do we assess how many people we have got doing road traffic policing?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I did hear what the Chief Constable said and I think there is evidence of a decline in roads policing. My Association some time ago was sensing that there was a decline but we could not find any definitive evidence to prove that so we set about a benchmarking exercise with colleagues across England and Wales, seeking to establish whether there had been a decline. Certainly the evidence from research from the PACs shows that there has but within the Police Service there was no definition of what constituted a roads policing officer nor was there an accurate estimate of the numbers. We set out to try and define that. I spoke to my colleagues in 43 forces and put that to them. It is quite a clear definition and some may argue with it but it was simply did the officers have a prime role to deal with and be engaged in roads policing, and that seems quite straightforward to me, as did have they received proper training and do they use proper specialist equipment. It was based on that definition that we conducted our survey.
Q122 Chairman: I think that seems to be commonsense but have you made representations beyond me for a clearer definition?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: We are part of the ACPO Roads Policing Operations Forum and I presented the details of my exercise to that forum, which is chaired by another chief constable, so that is now in the domain of the Police Service.
Q123 Chairman: Has anyone got any response from ministers because it is really fundamental, is it not? It is no use us saying to the Government we are very concerned about the quality of roads policing if a) it cannot be defined accurately and b) they are able to say the Police Service because they have got 43 different definitions has not really told us what it means by roads policing. Has there been a very clear attempt not just by the superintendents but by everyone to say very clearly to government ministers we need a definition that everybody agrees on?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I am certainly not aware of that.
Q124 Chairman: Do you agree that the falling road casualty rate must mean traffic policing is more effective than it was five or ten years ago because that is the other argument put to us?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: It is an argument and it is an argument that is difficult to support either one way or the other. What we do know from our colleagues across the 43 forces in England and Wales (and the research supports that) is that effective roads policing not only provides road casualty reduction but it also provides reassurance and it does tackle criminality because the roads policing officers (or traffic officers as they were called in the past) were clearly people who were engaged in catching criminals as much as they were engaged in road safety as well.
Q125 Chairman: Well, why it is important that it is a specialised role? What training and skills would you require as being basic to this role?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think there has been a concentration on the numbers and I think to a certain extent that is right and there must be a baseline at some stage we must establish, but in terms of roads policing, I think there are two elements of that. There is the specialist roads policing and that is what I am particularly interested in. Those are the people who have the specialist training who are able to investigate and be able to use tactical pursuit options, specialist enforcement and to use specialist equipment. At a lower level, a community level, it does not need specialist training to be engaged in enforcing seat belt legislation, for example, or anti-social parking. So I think there are two levels of this.
Q126 Chairman: Have you done any benchmarking for 2006?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: We have started that process. We intend to carry it out this year. The results will not be available until probably September. One caveat on that is the survey was a voluntary survey of my members and the return rate was about 70 per cent which is 31 police forces, so it is only a partial picture.
Q127 Chairman: Yes we were a bit concerned that not all forces measured performance and you have only got, as far as I can see, 27 out of 31 forces with performance management processes. It is a majority but it is not a very good level, is it really?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think you have just got to be careful that you are not reading too much into that in as much as that was a questionnaire to a single point of contact.
Q128 Chairman: I understand that but supposing we were to say such strategies ought to be a requirement under the National Community Safety Plan, because you really found out that 26 forces have a casualty reduction strategy, 27 have a roads policing strategy, 28 forces adopted ACPO's roads policing strategy and it still leaves quite a number, does it not, where they have not been able to say to you this is what we do?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: It does. What it does is it begs further research and certainly my Association is not in a position to go into that detail; we are a small organisation.
Q129 Chairman: So it might be one of the things that ought to be suggested to government as a government responsibility?
Chief Inspector Berry: I think it is certainly part of the HMIC inspection regime.
Q130 Chairman: What you have also said at one point is there is a concern that under half of police forces believe that traffic policing is "mainstreamed into Basic Command Unit level policing" . That does sounds rather like some police forces I know. What does that mean in English?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Mr Hughes, the Chief Constable, mentioned the National Intelligence Model. That splits policing into three levels: a national strategic level; level two is over force boundaries; and level one is local policing. What we found from the survey (and certainly from my experience) is that when police forces deal with roads policing at a force-wide level they are pretty good at integrating it into their day-to-day processes of applying intelligence principles. The worrying aspect of our survey was that when you came down to local level, BCU level, there was less evidence of that. I think less than 50 per cent of BCUs claim to be doing that.
Q131 Chairman: Is there evidence within the Police of which forces are neglecting roads policing? It may not be right to ask you.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Our survey revealed some gaps but it is difficult in a process such as this to name them in relation to baseline assessment from HMI.
Q132 Chairman: Is there a connection between comparative casualty rates?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: We did not do that work so we are not able to say definitely.
Chairman: Mr Efford?
Q133 Clive Efford: Are we making the most of technology to reduce speed?
Chief Inspector Berry: Certainly with regard to speed cameras I think that they have provided an additional resource but whilst they can be an additional resource I do not think they replace human beings and I think you need to have both. Whether it be a mobile camera or whether it be a static camera, the camera technology is great, but I think you need to have a human resource because the cameras cannot give advice, they cannot detect other offences which may be drink-drive, which is clearly aligned to casualty reduction and to road safety, and they cannot detect whether any criminality has taken place. I think that is why you need to have a blended approach in respect of using technology but also ensuring that you have got that very visible police presence on the streets as well that can enforce the road traffic laws.
Q134 Clive Efford: Do you think that balance is right at the moment or would you like to see more cameras?
Chief Inspector Berry: I do not want to see technology stop. It is a huge advantage but we are tending to replace human beings with technology and I think that is a retrograde step.
Q135 Clive Efford: So do you think the Government have taken on board your concerns in relation to this mix of using personnel to enforce road traffic laws and technology?
Chief Inspector Berry: I think we have to continue to put that message across. I do not think that they have heard it particularly well and I do not think it is just the Government, I think it is chief officers as well. If you have got a piece of technology which on the face of it could do the same piece of work as a human being then you could deploy that human being doing something else. I think that is particularly short-sighted.
Q136 Clive Efford: Does your Federation have a view on what the most appropriate use is? Do you have a set of criteria for, say, the deployment of speed cameras?
Chief Inspector Berry: No, I think that we want to make sure that speed cameras are not being deployed as a revenue collector but as a safety requirement, and a lot of work has taken place over the last two years in making sure and auditing that that is happening. When revenue is coming in there is a tremendous enticement there for people to maybe put them into areas where they know they are going to get a certain level of income, I think some of the poor practice that has taken place when cameras first came in has been redirected and with the adoption of the National Intelligence Model there is far more thought given to where both static cameras are being placed (some of those are being removed) and the use of mobile cameras as well.
Q137 Clive Efford: So has there been an extensive removal of cameras then that were inappropriately placed previously?
Chief Inspector Berry: I do not think we would say extensive, but I think it is important to say that not every static camera that was there two years ago is still there today. This is something that you have to continue reviewing to make sure there is a need for the cameras to be there.
Q138 Mrs Ellman: Two government departments are involved in policing accident reduction: the Home Office and the Department for Transport. How do you think that should be addressed? Should it be one department or should changes be made?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think it is quite clear that the Police Service is very much directed by the Home Office and we are a service that tends towards the Home Office. Road safety and casualty reduction is certainly the Department for Transport. I think it does cause a difficulty for the Police Service in that we are seeking to achieve clearly what are Home Office targets and those are primarily in relation to crime, disorder and other related offences. Casualty reduction does not feature as strongly in our psyche because it is not a Home Office-led area of business.
Q139 Mrs Ellman: Is it your perception that the public are concerned about accidents, even if your targets are not?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: 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.
Chief Inspector Berry: I think that is right. Sometimes there is a mind-set around somehow an accident is not as serious as a crime. For the Police Federation they are both serious. If your child is killed on the road by a person who has been drinking too much or by a person who is disqualified from driving, that is a crime, and it should be treated the same and yet somehow there is a mind-set in society that it is not, but if it is your child, if that person comes from your family or your community, that is a crime, and I really think it is important from an education point of view that we get that message across.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: May I give an example in as much as if you look at the Home Office list of offences that count as a detection, which has been very much the focus of HMIC activity, obstruction of electricity for example counts as an offence as does fraudulent use of a tax disc but disqualified driving and drink and drug driving does not count as a sanctioned detection, and I think that is an anomaly that should be put right.
Q140 Mrs Ellman: Is there an over-reliance on technology in the roads policing area?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I do not think there is an over-reliance. I think there is a danger if we do not correct the imbalance that we have at the moment we will lapse into that. I think over the years technology has been a fantastic boon towards reducing speed and reducing collisions and casualties. The problem is that that is seen and accompanied by a reduction in the number of police officers engaged in the same sort of activity.
Q141 Mrs Ellman: Is there evidence that those two things are linked?
Chief Inspector Berry: I think there probably is.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think there is evidence in as much as they seem to have coincided.
Chief Inspector Berry: One of the analogies that I would like to place here is around neighbourhood policing. We took police officers off the streets because we could not count what they were doing necessarily and we thought we could use them for more important things. We have learned from that that is not a good idea, and there is a huge danger of us doing exactly the same thing in roads policing. What you cannot count sometimes are the things that mean an awful lot. Physical presence actually does slow people down. The word of warning actually does educate. The fact that if a police officer stops somebody for maybe a broken light, the information they may get from that person, the other crimes that may come to light, they might be drink-driving, or a whole host of other things that can come out of that one stop, is immensely important, and I think it is how you value that. We made the mistake with neighbourhood policing; we should not make the mistake with roads policing as well.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think it is sometimes also a trap. You talk about enforcement as being the issuing of a ticket or prosecution but enforcement can actually be that very thing, the fact that an officer stops somebody and gives them some sort of guidance or advice whatever you may wish to call it, but at least have an intervention, that is equally as much an enforcement as prosecution.
Q142 Mrs Ellman: What about automatic number plate recognition technology; has that brought great benefits?
Chief Inspector Berry: Yes it has. I suspect that we have not got enough resources to make the most of those but I would not want to be without it today. It has been a boon in respect of roads policing and in respect of reducing casualties but it has also helped with criminality as well, and it is this blended approach again that is not just about enforcing road traffic laws, it is also about making sure that we have a response to crime.
Q143 Mrs Ellman: When you said you have not got the resources to make the most use of it, what did you mean?
Chief Inspector Berry: For the number of hits you might get on an ANPR camera we have not got enough police officers to be able to respond to every single one of those. Whilst ANPR is wonderful, no piece of technology is going to be wonderful on its own. For example, criminals and people who drink-drive and people who drive whilst disqualified will learn that if they are using the car they have used previously that will be registered on the ANPR database, and so they will change vehicles. So there are ways of getting around ANPR in some respects of the database, but it is still a cracking piece of technology.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think it is fair to say in relation to the number of hits that have been referred to, nor would we ever have enough resources to deal with every hit. It would be impossible purely by the volume, so it really has to be a piece of kit that is aligned to policing skills. The technology is good - absolutely fantastic - but it needs police officers there to be able to interpret it and action the intelligence.
Q144 Mrs Ellman: Are you concerned about the civil liberties aspect of this technology? Are there any issues?
Chief Inspector Berry: The Police Federation has always taken the view that if you have nothing to hide you would not be worried about it.
Q145 Chairman: Ah ha, we have heard that argument before. It does occasionally not meet all the circumstances but we will not go into this.
Chief Inspector Berry: I understand that. Some of the reports in the newspapers over the last couple of days were suggesting that maybe cameras could be used for seat belts and mobile phones. We do not have that technology at the moment. I understand some of that evidence was given earlier on this afternoon. It would be great if we did but we do not have the technology nor necessarily the resources to be able to police it.
Q146 Chairman: This Committee did an inquiry before the 1997 General Election which looked at what happens in Norway, where they do have exactly that technology and where, as a matter of principle, they block out the faces of both the driver and the people sitting in the front in order that there should be no accusation of, in effect, fishing for information. I know that no British force could ever be accused of fishing, but there is however the unhappy suggestion that we must carefully monitor the use of these pieces of equipment because they go over into other things. All we are worried about is whether as working policemen you think this is a viable argument or whether the argument that while it is there we use it is sufficient for both of the Associations?
Chief Inspector Berry: The point you make is absolutely correct. Whilst if you have not done anything wrong you have got nothing to worry about, the way in which that technology is then used clearly does have to have very clear protocols attached to it.
Q147 Mr Martlew: Can we come to the training of traffic officers and police in general traffic matters. We have already heard a witness say that very often the case that is put to the courts is not presented properly. Did that come as a surprise to you?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: That is something I have heard before. I have spent quite a lot of time working with one of the road charities and I meet a lot of families of victims and they do sometimes have a very poor opinion of the investigation. Sometimes you have to weigh that up against the loss they have suffered and the way that they view the investigation and it is the case many times that I do not think we would ever be able to reach the standard of investigation that they really wish to see. Overall, however, I think the standard of investigation is good. In any process there are bound to be human frailties so there may be occasions when they are not as good. All I can say is that from my experience as a BCU commander I used to see all the files that go through and I thought they were of a very high standard. I have a criminal investigation background as well and they certainly are at least up to if not better than the crime files I saw. Finally, the feedback I get from coroners is that the standard of files that are put in for fatal collisions is very high.
Q148 Mr Martlew: Is that the view of the Police Federation?
Chief Inspector Berry: I think it would be the view of the Federation for most serious road traffic offences and road policing issues, but I think training generally has been given pretty short treatment in policing in recent years. We tend to train people when they come into the service to a reasonable standard but if you are not going to specialise - and specialists would tend to get reasonable training - and you are not going to seek to be promoted, the level of training that has been available to officers and, importantly, refresher training, have been very poor, whether that be driver training or the more skilful training.
Q149 Mr Martlew: Can I come on to driver training? Obviously, over recent years there have been, sadly, quite a few high profile, very bad accidents involving police normally chasing other vehicles. Are you happy that the standard is as good as it used to be on training of police drivers?
Chief Inspector Berry: No. We certainly made some very clear statements at our conference last year that we were not satisfied that all police officers who were required to drive vehicles were being trained to the standard to which they needed to be trained in order to do what was being expected of them or, importantly, what they assumed was being expected of them on some occasions, and that is as much down to training as anything else is. We felt that the advanced training for drivers was reasonable and that that in most forces was being adhered to, but the picture for the rest of the training for officers was very patchy around 43 forces and quite derisory in many respects.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: It is a fair point to make in relation to the training of specialist roads policing officers that it certainly used to be the case that to be a specialist roads policing officer you had to be advanced driver trained, and then you had to have additional training, in other words, how to carry out proper investigations, how to deal with the scenes of serious collisions, how to deal with foreign goods vehicles, et cetera. What is the case now, because a lot of specialist roads policing officers have been dissipated into local policing, is that those skills have lapsed, the training has lapsed and we now have people who are undertaking specialist roads policing duties who have not had the proper training. That is certainly an issue from my Association that we are putting out needs addressing again.
Q150 Chairman: Are you monitoring the effect of the new traffic officers on accidents because, frankly, there are some of us who are rather concerned that in their desire to focus on a very narrow responsibility, that of keeping the traffic moving, they could have an impact upon investigations and things like road accidents?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I know my colleagues from the Federation have a view about Highways Agency traffic officers which I am sure Jan will talk about in a second. From my point of view it is too early to say yet how effective they are. As a service we are monitoring how effective they are and that can only be done over a 12-month period. In my own force of Cheshire, for example, we have HATOs and they have been out for several months but their training and their familiarity with the road network is not such that we could say that therefore they are embedded. Certainly I know my colleagues in the Federation have a view.
Chief Inspector Berry: From a network point of view it is quite right that the network needs to be free-flowing and that we have to try and keep the network in that state. I think Highways Agency traffic officers have a role to play in assisting the professional road policing officer on motorways and on class A roads. There are jobs which maybe a police officer does not need to hang around to do but the scene still needs to be protected, he has to wait for recovery and those types of issues. I think that is a really important role to be done but it does not need to be done by a skilled roads policing officer. However, there is a danger, and your own committee has identified the danger, of powers creep. We are beginning to see it with community support officers and I see it happening also - and more so, probably - with the HATOs because the power is there very clearly in the Act with very little scrutiny from Parliament. The difference we have on this occasion, and it goes back to the question that you asked earlier, is that PCSOs are employed by the police and so we do have some control over their usage, or the chief officer does. HATOs are not employed by the police; they are employed by a government department which is not in competition with the Home Office but working differently, so I think there can be a conflict of interest there.
Q151 Chairman: Just as a matter of interest, let us take 43 as being the number of forces we are going to have to deal with, at least in the foreseeable future. What is the line of reporting? Supposing a police officer dealing with a problem on a motorway found himself faced with some particular gap either in training or in performance that he thought was sufficiently important. Where would the information on that go through to government? Would it go through parallel lines, one lot through the Department of Transport and one lot through the Home Office?
Chief Inspector Berry: Yes.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Yes. The first thing I can say to offer some reassurance is that at operational level the two groups, the police and the HATOs, are working very closely together and with very little difficulty.
Q152 Chairman: One would hope so.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: There is a bit of reassurance there, but you are right: they are two different organisations working very closely together. It has not been tested yet to be able to say whether we are confident of the result.
Chief Inspector Berry: If I can just help on that point, there are cases where police forces are training HATOs, so they are receiving training in the same way and I think that has to be an advantage.
Q153 Chairman: I love this term "HATOs". It sounds terribly rural, does it not? How important is the National Intelligence Model? To what extent should it be applied to roads policing?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think we referred to it earlier in our evidence, that it is working well at level two, at force-wide level, and I think that is right. The gap seems to be at a local level where community intelligence is not hitting the screen, so to speak, and I think if there is work to do it is on being able to apply roads policing resources with the same level of integrity and criteria as criminal intelligence resources, and roads policing is not doing that.
Chief Inspector Berry: This goes back to the point we made at the beginning, that you are not measuring it.
Q154 Chairman: No. What equipment do recovery vehicles have which the police would benefit from?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think you might be alluding to some of the mobile data systems that the recovery vehicles have that the Police Service do not have. It is fair to say that as a service we are developing mobile data.
Q155 Chairman: It has not always been a happy record with some police forces and IT systems.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Absolutely not, and we are probably some years behind some of our -----
Q156 Chairman: Have you asked for new technology and, if so, what response did you receive?
Chief Inspector Berry: We are still waiting, is the response. On the point you make, it is not just recovery vehicles. The Highways Agency vehicles' controls rooms arguably have far better equipment than we have. The AA, the RAC and everybody else have far better technology than we have.
Q157 Chairman: In a particular way?
Chief Inspector Berry: In the mobile data. Whilst the Highways Agency use the same air wave network for communications as we do, as far as mobile data is concerned there are some roads policing vehicles which will have mobile data ability and communications; the vast majority have not and it is some way down the line before we can expect to have it.
Q158 Chairman: I am very ignorant about these things, Chief Inspector, but does the Home Office specify more than simply how much should be spent in certain areas? Does it indicate to a force, for example, "You should bring your equipment up to a certain level"?
Chief Inspector Berry: There are a lot of reasons why the IT systems, to allow interoperability between forces, are not right. We are beginning to see some interoperability now so that forces can exchange information and intelligence. That will have as much benefit for roads policing intelligence as it will have for the rest of policing. It has taken an awful long time.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: The technology is out there and it is working in the commercial sector. It is true to say that the commercial sector is faster on its feet than the public services are.
Q159 Chairman: Why has the number of drink-drive deaths started to increase again?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I have a view that that is very much connected with what we have been talking about this afternoon and it is about the number of police officers who are engaged in that sort of activity, trying to prevent and deter. I do not think it is just about police officers and I do not think it is just about police enforcement. I think it is about the message; there is perhaps a generational gap in terms of the message that has got through. I am certainly conscious that there is a lot of very good advertising material that is available outside of England and Wales which is very impacting and sends a very clear message about drinking and driving and the outcomes of that which we do not have access to in this country.
Q160 Chairman: If local authorities decide to halt or reduce speed camera operations following the change in funding arrangements do you think police forces will respond by taking up that role?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Presumably you are talking about the change in the funding for cameras. Again, I think it is too early to say. There is a concern from some of my colleagues. We welcome the change in funding because that sends a message out that speed enforcement is not a profit-making event and I think that is absolutely right. The concern we have is that we do not want to be left with the rump of all the enforcement without the support of the funding that comes with it.
Q161 Chairman: What lessons have been learned from the camera partnerships? Any?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Some very good lessons have been learned in terms of when partners work together with a common cause they are very effective. That is not new. That has gone on for many years. There is an issue that some of the camera partnerships have perhaps taken a lot of the energy away from some of the less technology-focused partnerships, particularly engineering and particularly education as well, but overall I think the partnerships have worked well. Think the scheme has worked well. There is just a concern about whether the new funding arrangements will hit the service.
Q162 Chairman: Do you think the multi-agency co-operation will continue or do you think the funding will destroy that?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think it will continue and it is demonstrated in our own force area. We talked about motorcycles earlier on this afternoon. When local authorities, the police and the emergency services put their efforts together to tackle a problem a lot can be achieved.
Q163 Chairman: Should we police our motorways with speed cameras?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: We do already, certainly at road works.
Q164 Chairman: It is not quite the same thing as having them on the M6 at rush hour, is it?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: No, it is not.
Q165 Chairman: I mean, if it is the Thelwall viaduct you do not have a problem because nobody moves.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Yes. I think there is a case that the time/distance cameras would be effective on motorways. The issue would be, I guess, making sure the public were aware of that in a way that they are probably not now.
Q166 Chairman: Do you think we are getting too reliant on cameras?
Chief Inspector Berry: That is what I was saying earlier on, that you have to have a mix between technology and human beings. I am not saying that we have got too many cameras. I think they are about right, provided they are used intelligently, but we need to have that human resource that works alongside those cameras. Can I go back to a point that was made about the camera partnerships? It is very often determined by the personalities within those partnerships making them work. There are some brilliant partnerships where the funding will not really make an awful lot of difference. It will help, it will encourage and it will help them to be very creative but there are other ones where it will not work because the personalities do not work. We need to have a mechanism of being able to identify where those partnerships are not working to make them more effective.
Q167 Chairman: Does that not bring us back to your point about training? I am really a bit appalled because I had not taken on board the fact that there was a very structured training system. One of the arguments we have had about the PCSOs and about traffic management officers is precisely that there is an enormous difference between a trained police officer, who is now not the cheapest of commodities in our national exchequer, and those who are very focused on a much lower level, who are much more restricted. Do both your Associations put very strongly to government the need for a continuing process of training throughout a police career because, you will forgive my saying so, Chief Inspector, the Federation is frequently accused of being anti-new technology, anti-changes in working practices, and surely one of the lessons to be learned from what you have been saying is that this is partly because of the structure of the existing training system?
Chief Inspector Berry: Absolutely. As I said, when you join you receive reasonable training. That training is then developed with experience. It is that refresher training that is so important and that is missing from us at the moment.
Q168 Chairman: Would that be helped if you had in a sense a focus on a roads policing unit?
Chief Inspector Berry: Roads policing units will benefit from being trained to undertake the role that they are undertaking. Earlier today I was involved in discussions which hopefully will improve the professional development of all officers, both through qualifications and the accreditation framework within the Police Service, but people have to see training and development as an investment, not as an abstraction, and that is one of the difficulties in policing at the moment.
Q169 Chairman: What happens if somebody realises that the officers doing the job have not got sufficient skills to undertake a full range of traffic duties?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: It is not the case that there is not training or that it is not of a high standard.
Q170 Chairman: No, I was not suggesting that.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: The problem is that it is patchy and it depends upon each force, each chief constable, as to what extent specialist officers will exist in the first place and the level of training they get. At some levels in terms of investigation, in terms of the Road Death Investigation Manual, there are some very highly trained officers. I would hate to believe that that was not the case but it is patchy and the fear I have is that if you have an officer going to the scene of a serious collision and that officer is not sufficiently trained and aware of how to protect himself or herself and the public and how to gather evidence then we are falling down in our duty.
Q171 Chairman: Supposing we had got a case like that. What action would a senior officer take?
Chief Inspector Berry: This is where the Police Service needs to be a learning organisation because we do not always get it right but we have to look at incidents and make sure that we can learn from them, so if there are safety issues that come out of how a person has dealt with the scene of an incident then we need to make sure that this does not become a sanction and hit them round the head but that we try and learn and develop to make sure we do not do it again. Police officers have learned in their lives from not dealing appropriately with the scene of an incident and we need to make sure that we learn from that particular process. Motorways and other roads are hugely dangerous places and we need to make sure people are skilled to operate in that environment.
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I think senior officers are aware of that. Recently in my own force in Cheshire I was made aware that there were some officers who had moved from criminal investigation work into roads policing work and they had not been trained, and we were able very quickly to identify that and almost immediately, overnight, put in some mechanisms to put that right.
Q172 Chairman: But, Chief Superintendent, with 43 different forces all behaving like individual prima donnas, with each chief constable having his own patch and doing his own little thing - and they are mostly "he's" -----
Chief Inspector Berry: There are national standards and what the Police Federation and I know the Police Superintendents' Association have said for some time now is that those national standards have to be met. It should not be down to luck as to which force you happen to be in with regard to what quality of training you get.
Q173 Chairman: Are you really telling me that even the inspectorate would not automatically pick up on the speed at which that level of training has been instituted and that kind of problem has been solved?
Chief Inspector Berry: I think it has been given far more consideration today than maybe it was two or three years ago.
Q174 Chairman: I just want to ask you one more question before you escape. Have you faced any problems getting local authorities to make CCTV footage available for crash investigation?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: I am not aware of any occasions when that has happened.
Chief Inspector Berry: I am not aware of any.
Q175 Chairman: Supposing local authorities and anyone else holding recorded evidence of collisions needed to make it available to the police, are you of the opinion that that is going to be quite possible?
Chief Superintendent Barnett: Yes.
Chief Inspector Berry: I am certainly of that opinion.
Chairman: Can I say that, whatever our questions, we are very aware of the good job that you do and we are very grateful to you both for coming. Thank you very much.