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Committee claim cutbacks could shape road traffic stats

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A dramatic reduction in the number of road traffic offences being recorded nationwide may not in fact be a consequence of improving driving standards, MPs have suggested.

The Transport Select Committee has indicated that cuts in police budgets could have had a bearing on official statistics, suggesting that reduced resources may make it harder to detect offences.

According to analysis, the number of specialist road policing officers in England and Wales fell sharply between 2005 and 2014 (from 7,104 down to 4,356.)

“For enforcement to be successful and for educational campaigns to be convincing there must be the likelihood that offenders will be apprehended,” said the committee.

“There is a growing concern that the lack of specialist dedicated road traffic officers means that ‘minor’ offences such as careless driving cannot be effectively detected and enforcement action taken.”

RAC spokesman Pete Williams added: “The sharp decline in roads policing officers appears to be having the very unwelcome effect of leading to fewer people being caught for illegal activity.”

Following cutbacks, the Government has concentrated resources on the so-called “fatal four” – those factors which are most likely to lead to road deaths. These are: drink driving, speeding, mobile phone usage and not wearing a seat belt.

However, the Department for Transport has played down suggestions that budget cuts have made it harder to catch those committing more minor road traffic offences.

“Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary has been clear that there is no link between police resources and crime levels and effective roads policing is dependent on a range of factors, from better driver awareness to increased use of fixed penalty notices,” a spokesman said.

If you are facing charges for drink-driving, speeding or other road traffic offences, it is important to seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity to ensure the best possible representation. For further details about how Lester Morrill’s road traffic team can help you, please contact us.