Transport Committee Contents

5Freight enforcement

81.The enforcement of road traffic law on freight traffic has its own distinct requirements, as vehicle standards need to be upheld on goods vehicles to ensure that they do not present a hazard to other road users. In addition to this, drivers’ hours are regulated and monitored via in-vehicle technology to ensure that commercial drivers do not become dangerously tired. We took evidence from Peter Hearn, the Head of Policy Development for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). We also attended a traffic stop in London, where officers from London’s Freight Enforcement Partnership stopped vehicles in order to perform a battery of checks. The Freight Enforcement Partnership, comprising the DVSA, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police uses shared intelligence to target rogue freight. The FTA told us that “through targeting of its resources the [DVSA] achieves a prohibition rate127 14 percentage points higher than if they stopped vehicles at random”128 and that the DVSA has become “increasingly sophisticated and forward-thinking in the targeting of its enforcement assets.”129 Garry Forsyth stated that information sharing with the DVSA “is absolutely essential” to the police.130 Peter Hearn added that the targeted and intelligence-led nature of the DVSA’s work has meant that individual operators can be forced to change their behaviour in a way that would not previously have been possible by targeting them in such a way that disrupts their operations until they improve their behaviour.131

82.The DVSA’s Fleet Compliance Checks show that prohibitions and charges for serious offences are more commonly issued to non-GB-registered vehicles and trailers than to those registered in GB. 9.3% of GB registered vehicles and 9.8% of GB-registered trailers respectively were issued with a prohibition or serious offence in the 2014/15 Fleet Compliance Checks, compared to 15.1% and 20.9% of non-GB vehicles and trailers respectively.132

83.One specific initiative used by the DVSA to target its resources more effectively is the Remote Enforcement Office. This aims to reduce visits by DVSA officers to an operator’s premises. Operators working at a high compliance level can submit details of their fleet online, rather than having a DVSA officer visit their premises. A 9-month trial of the scheme ended in October 2014, which the DVSA described as “by all measures very successful”.133 The DVSA Trade Union Side expressed concerns that the initiative would make it harder to identify operators that had reduced their level of compliance.134

84.Prior to the London Freight Enforcement partnership, the DVSA, Transport for London, the Metropolitan Police Service and City of London Police established the Industrial HGV Task Force in response to the high number of cyclist deaths attributed to collisions with HGVs in the capital. According to the DVSA, in two years of this task force’s operation, more than 6,030 vehicles were targeted and stopped and 4,500 cases referred for prosecutions.135 The Government’s December 2015 road safety statement indicated that this sort of initiative may be extended beyond London as it explores “with the DVSA, better ways of targeting enforcement against transport operators who are serially, and seriously, non-compliant”.136

85.The DVSA’s activity demonstrates that technology can be used to make intelligent targeting decisions with limited resources. The high level of prosecutions relative to vehicles stopped by the Industrial HGV Task Force—the precursor to the London Freight Enforcement partnership—is a good example of how successful joint intelligence-led operations can be. This is demonstrated by this partnership maintaining information on which operators are more likely to have defects, and then targeting them alongside random checks on the roads of London.

86.More needs to be done to reduce the prohibitions issued to non-GB vehicles in particular, and intelligent targeting of operators that are known, or suspected, to be non-compliant can achieve this. There is also a place for random checks, and DVSA must not let these slide. We recommend that the Government assess the impact of intelligence sharing and joint working in London and the South East, and ensure that it is possible for information and technology to be used effectively by the DVSA across the country in order to improve compliance.

127 A “prohibition” is where inspectors have deemed that action needs to be taken to make the vehicle or driver road-safe. Prohibitions can either be immediate (where the vehicle needs to be taken off of the road and immobilised until a change it made) or delayed (where the vehicle is deemed to be safe to be allowed to drive the vehicle away, but must make the required changes within a certain time).

128 Freight Transport Association (RTL0052)

129 Freight Transport Association (RTL0052)

130 Q214 [Garry Forsyth]

131 Q214 [Garry Forsyth]

132 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, Fleet compliance check summary report, 2014 to 2015, November 2015

133 Moving On blog, Make compliance part of your culture,, October 2014

134 Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency Trade Union Side (RTL0037)

135New partnership targets unsafe drivers and operators in London”, Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency press release, October 2015

136 Department for Transport, Road safety statement: working together to build aa safer road system, Cm 9175, December 2015, p. 23

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 11 March 2016