The number of traffic police in the UK has been cut by 12 per cent in the past five years, with some forces enduring cuts of up to 42 per cent, road safety charity Brake claims.
Numbers in Wales fell by 31 per cent and in England it dropped by 12 per cent. But traffic police in Scotland increased by four per cent, according to figures from a Freedom of Information request by Brake.
The largest cuts were in South Wales, where road police have been reduced by 42 per cent, and Dyfed Powys, which is down by 39 per cent. Hampshire suffered the biggest drop in England, with 36 per cent of officers cut.
Brake said that these cuts could lead to forces struggling to enforce vital safety laws, and could undermine new driving laws that come into play this month.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: “Cutting traffic police is a false economy: the casualties they help to prevent inflict such devastation and are a huge drain on public services.”
But the Association of Chief Police officers (ACPO) said that the figures were misleading because they don’t consider all police officers that work in traffic control, such as operational officers or automatic number place recognition officers.
National lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, said: “These figures are based on inaccurate assumptions and a misunderstanding about how police forces deploy officers on our roads. The terminology used simply does not capture all roads policing resources and is both incomplete and misleading.
A spokesman for ACPO said the new laws coming in July would be enforced by dedicated traffic police officers, and forces would share resources with neighboring forces to widen the area covered. But he admitted that police resources are now being stretched to their limit.
“There is a reduction in traffic police because no area of policing is immune from funding cuts, but there isn't the figures to suggest that the cuts will cause a problem.
“But we are coming up to the limit of where we can police effectively and still reduce crime,” he said.
So, when was the last time you saw a traffic officer on the road? Do you think there should be more traffic law enforcers? Let us know what you think in the comments below.