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Drop in full time road police officers is concerning, says RAC

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The number of police officers patrolling the roads of West Yorkshire full time fell by 91 in 2014-15 – the biggest drop in the country.

The RAC said it is “dismayed” that the drop in numbers is reflected in 30 of 42 regions in England and Wales throughout 2015.

The automotive services company said it had severe safety concerns about the numbers, supplied in response to a Transport Select Committee question to the Government.

The figures show 1,400 fewer road policing officers outside London than there were in 2010.

Pete Williams, RAC Head of External Affairs, said: “Overall, these figures make for grim reading and are likely to be met with dismay by law-abiding motorists.

“While some of the numbers may be explained by organisational changes, such as officers taking on multiple roles and police forces working in partnership to tackle crime, the data still clearly shows that a majority of forces have seen a further fall in the number of officers whose primary responsibility is tackling crime on our roads.

“The National Police Chiefs’ Council has stated its commitment to tackling the so-called ‘Fatal Four’ causes of serious accidents – inappropriate and excessive speed, driving under the influence of drink and drugs, not wearing a seatbelt and driving while distracted – but just how practical is this given the latest falls in officer numbers?

“We are acutely aware that the police are doing their best to manage challenging budgets and scant resources. However, the sustained reduction in roads policing officers is at odds with the consistent number of serious motoring offences being committed, and the concerns already expressed by motorists around the lack of visible police presence on our roads.

“The majority of motoring laws that exist to make our roads safer still rely on a physical officer present to either apply the law, or deter drivers from committing an offence in the first place.”

Other hard-hit regions included Avon & Somerset police, which cut 34 posts, or 35 per cent of their roads policing front line. Lancashire, Manchester and Northamptonshire were next on the list with 29, 22, and 21 fewer full time road police officers than before. South Yorkshire came in at -18.

The RAC’s Report on Motoring found that enforcement of the law and the behaviour of other motorists were the two top concerns of the motorists surveyed, with 62 per cent bemoaning the lack of police on the roads to enforce existing laws.