The UK's top traffic cop has called for dashcam footage to be used to catch drivers who flout the law after cuts in road traffic policing were criticised by the Police Federation.
It wants a new approach to roads policing after the total number of specialist roads officers across all 43 forces has fallen from 5,634 in 2010 to 4,934 in 2017, according to data from the Home Office.
Jayne Willetts, roads policing lead at the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), told delegates at its annual roads policing conference in Hinckley, Leicestershire, that there is a worrying trend of existing roads officers being redeployed to other operational duties.
“To put it bluntly, the current situation is not good enough,” said Willetts. “There are some people in the Government and some senior managers that will agree resources do matter, but for others the message is simply not getting through. Think of what we could achieve with more. Think of the lives we could save if we had more resources.”
The Government has introduced tougher penalties for using a mobile phone while driving and for drug driving, but has faced criticism for having too few officers to enforce the laws.
Chief Constable Anthony Bangham, roads policing lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), believes the UK could have the safest roads in the world if drivers had a “genuine fear of being caught” if they speed, use a phone at the wheel or drive under the influence of drink or drugs.
Bangham also called for an end to officers allowing a 10% buffer over the signposted limit, arguing that police spend too much time trying to justify speeding tickets and being “patient” with speeders.
He said the lack of money and resources could be mitigated if “all police officers make it their business to police the roads” and the public could upload dashcam footage of wrongdoing.
“Let’s commit to having the safest roads, let’s make it everyone’s business, let’s embrace technology and what the public can do,” said Bangham. “Let’s get out there and send the message that we’re proud of what we do.”
Bangham's call for police to embrace dashcam evidence comes after police forces across Wales extended a pilot scheme to use public dashcam footage to help catch dangerous drivers.
Operation Snap was run by North Wales Police (NWP) in October 2016, and its rollout across Wales was announced in September. However, at the time the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) told Fleet News that rolling out Operation Snap across the rest of the UK was not currently under consideration.