Traffic police numbers across Great Britain have been cut by 12% in five years, with some forces suffering 30-40% reductions, according to data released today by road safety charity Brake and webuyanycar.com.
While traffic police in Scotland increased by 4%, numbers were down by 31% in Wales, and 13% in England.
Brake and webuyanycar.com are warning the cuts leave some parts of the country dangerously short on vital frontline roads policing, which could put the public at risk from dangerous, law-breaking drivers.
The largest cuts have been in: Bedfordshire, where roads police have been reduced by 44%; South Wales and Dyfed Powys, where cuts are around 40%; and West Mercia and Hampshire, where reductions are more than a third.
Brake and webuyanycar.com are concerned the resulting lack of roads policing officers will lead to forces struggling to enforce vital safety laws, such as on drink driving, speeding and mobile phone use, and could potentially undermine an important new drug driving law expected to come into force next year.
International evidence shows enforcement is a key part of keeping roads safe, preventing devastating crashes and casualties by providing a deterrent against risky driving and ensuring dangerous offenders are taken off the public road.
Brake and webuyanycar.com are calling on the Government to act to stem these cuts to traffic policing.
It is urging the government to make roads policing a national policing priority, and ensure traffic policing is sufficiently resourced to tackle drunk, drugged and other dangerous driving.
Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: "It is desperately worrying such large cuts continue to be made to traffic policing, just as progress is being made to improve the law on deadly drug driving.
“Roads police officers do a vital job enforcing important safety laws and protecting the public - their work is proven to save lives and prevent injuries and suffering.
“Cutting traffic police is a false economy, because the crashes and casualties they help to prevent inflict such devastation and are a huge drain on public services.
“These cuts also undermine important progress being made by government to tackle drug driving - because as much as we need a new drug driving law and screening devices, we also need the officers out there to enforce it.
“We urge the government to make roads policing a national policing priority, to make sure we have a strong deterrent against the risk-taking on roads that can easily cost lives."