The UK Government has announced that later this year it will be launching a first-of-its-kind joint review into roads policing and traffic enforcement as part of the Road Safety Action Plan that it unveiled in November last year.
The two-year review, jointly funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and Highways England (HE), will look at how roads policing currently works, its effectiveness, and where improvements could be made or gaps bridged. The DfT will be looking at this with the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council. A pilot program based on the review and consultation feedback could begin next year, and could test out new initiatives or ways of working to see what works best in reducing road casualties.
The review will also look at how the police and different agencies work together, the information they share and how improvements may increase capability and capacity. The study will also consider how best to police roads in rural and urban areas, and across the country’s strategic road network (SRN) of motorways and major A-class trunk roads. In order to find out what currently works well, a call for evidence will be launched this autumn, and findings and recommendations will be ready in 2020.
The DfT says the new review will not increase the burden on existing police forces. In fact, to help free up police time, the department has just rolled out a new version of the Collision Reporting and Sharing software and provided a smartphone app to work on existing police mobile devices as well as funding to buy tablet computers. This app enables officers to accurately report crash data and locations on site, rather than having to return to a police station to duplicate paperwork on a computer.
The DfT has also invested in the development of roadside breathalyzers, which once finished, will enable suspected drink drivers to be tested at the roadside, without having to go back to the police station for a test, and the reading can then be used as evidence in court. As part of the Road Safety Action Plan, a bespoke new back office unit is being set up so that police can analyze video evidence submitted by the public. The initiative builds on the success of Operation Snap, a successful program first piloted by North Wales Police in 2016, and will allow police to handle video and photographic evidence submitted via dash cams.
“We have strong laws in place to ensure people are kept safe on our roads at all times. But roads policing is a key deterrent in stopping drivers breaking the law and risking their and other people’s lives,” noted UK Road Safety Minister, Michael Ellis. “This review will not only highlight where police forces are doing good work, it will show what more can be done to improve road safety.”