WORRYING new roads policing stats show years of cuts to the service have come home to roost, says Hampshire Police Federation.
A recent HMICFRS report has revealed a 34% cut in spending on highways policing since 2013, resulted in 30% fewer roads officers. 18% of officers have been cut from the frontline over the past four years alone.
Meanwhile, more than 26,000 people were killed or seriously injured across Scotland, Wales and England in 2018.
It’s a figure showing signs of increasing HMICFRS investigators say, who have called for improvements across roads policing
Hampshire Police Federation Chair Zoe Wakefield said the sector had been an unfortunate victim of Government-led budget cuts.
“I don’t think it’s been deliberately neglected,” she said.
“Due to the drastic cuts forces have had to make because of the Government’s reduced funding, police have just had to make those difficult decisions.
“These policing units are one of those departments where they’ve had to cut so that they’ve had enough officers to deploy to 999 calls.
“We’ve probably all noticed that drop in presence on our motorways of those traffic cars, and the figures show that that has had an impact.”
It’s the preventative power of roads policing which has been missed, Zoe added, although she’s hopeful the plan to recruit more officers will help.
“When we arrest somebody for drunk driving it doesn’t really hit many of those figures, but we never know if we’ve prevented that person from killing someone,” she said.
“The figures don’t show how preventative all the people we catch for speeding is; it doesn’t show how much they’ve prevented that from happening.
“Again, hopefully as a result of the uplift we are going to be able to increase those departments again, but it’s going to take time because a lot of those policing departments are specially trained officers, so it’s going to take time to get those experienced and training back up to where it was.
“The job always attracts enough people,” Zoe added.
“Because we’ve had to prioritise departments like firearms, we had to do an uplift into our firearms teams a couple of years ago as a result of some of the terrorist activity, and then we’ve had to maintain our response capability, and that’s where the priority has had to be.
“Hopefully now we’ve got more officers coming through, and our numbers are going to go up we can now actually look to replenish those departments that have had the worst cuts.”