Improving road safety and roads policing – call and response?

On Monday 13 July the DfT opened a call for evidence about roads policing, seeking “to identify which current methods work best plus how the capability and capacity of enforcement services can be enhanced.” This will run until early October. Just 48 hours later Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services published “Roads Policing: Not optional” making 13 very clear recommendations in this area.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) published a report on Wednesday 15 July entitled “Roads Policing: Not optional – An inspection of roads policing in England and Wales”. This made 13 recommendations to improve the effectiveness of roads policing, each of which either called for immediate implementation or for implementation within 12 months (see pages 4-7 of the report).

The HMICFRS press release includes this quote from HM Inspector Matt Parr which cites a lower priority and severely reduced funding as areas which really must be addressed if a step-change in road safety is to be through policing:

“Our inspection suggests that roads policing, despite the number of road deaths plateauing and likely to increase, is seen as less of a priority than it should be. We found that almost half of local crime plans didn’t include reference to roads policing. This, along with an unclear national strategy, is doing little to help reduce the number of deaths and life-changing accidents which occur on our roads.

“Spending on roads policing has been cut by 34% resulting in fewer officers dealing with offences that cause road deaths. However there is a clear, and pressing, need for government, police and crime commissioners, chief officers, and the College of Policing to recognise the importance of roads policing in reducing death on the roads. We have made recommendations to help the police improve the effectiveness of roads policing in England and Wales. In doing so, we are clear, roads policing is not optional.”

On the face of it there seems to be some irony in the timing of the call for evidence being published and the HMICFRS report appearing to answer it only two days later.

However, the Minister’s foreword to the DfT’s call for evidence notes that it “is part of a wider review which includes a thematic inspection of roads policing conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) commissioned by the department.” Thankfully, then, it seems that there actually is clear and joined-up thinking across DfT and other parts of government on this important issue.

Retaining a coherent cross-agency strategy looks to be critical to deliver against the commendable intention to improve roads policing and road safety – a point which is made somewhat less directly in the first recommendation of the Inspectorate’s report:

Recommendation 1. By 1 August 2021, the Department for Transport and the Home Office should develop and publish a national road safety strategy that provides clear guidance to the police, local authorities, highways agencies and other strategic partners. The strategy should include an explanation of the roles and responsibilities of each agency and the expectations of central government.

The documents are available via these links:

DfT Roads Policing Call for Evidence       HMICFRS Roads Policing Not Optional Report


Alistair Kinley – Director of Policy and Government Affairs, BLM

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