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'Swapping traffic police for cameras has been a deadly cost saving'

Chris Rosamond says the UK's roads are becoming more dangerous due to less police traffic enforcement

Police traffic

Around the age of 12, I was a passenger in a car accident. Two vehicles were written off and, while there were no serious casualties, I vividly recall the panic, consternation and distress of the adults involved. Calm and order were restored only when a police traffic patrol arrived to deftly take charge. Even at such a tender age, I shared the relief that accompanied the reassuring appearance of that Ford Granada ‘jam sandwich’. 

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Later on, as a youthful car enthusiast with a budget that stretched only to a series of decrepit old bangers, and then having enjoyed the performance of various exotics as a motoring writer, subsequent encounters with ‘Mr Plod’ may not have been quite so welcome.

But… when those flashing blue lights showed up in my rear-view mirror, it was a fair bet that at least one of the officers on board the patrol car would demonstrate the experience, wisdom and good humour required to resolve the situation appropriately. 

If that meant sending a well intentioned driver (me!) on their way with a timely warning or a word of advice,
I knew that I’d been fortunate to have been given a second chance and would be sure to fix the issue or be more careful. That sort of policing is a win for everyone involved, and is the foundation of the respect UK traffic officers have earned from the majority of drivers.

I’m not aware the public ever consented to swapping real policing for enforcement by speed cameras, ANPR systems and ‘citizen cops’ uploading dash-cam footage, but that’s what we’re offered today, while traffic patrols are virtually non-existent. The rush to ditch skills and experience in favour of ‘cost-effective’ measures comes at a heavy price, including a gradual rise in the number of deaths from road traffic collisions in England and Wales – up from 1,541 fatalities in 2013 to 1,624 in 2018. 

It’s time for police forces to take stock of what we’ve lost, and undo damaging cuts to proper roads policing.

Now read on for everything you need to know about speed cameras here...

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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