Thursday 16 January 2014

Roads policing officers hit lowest levels and vital skills are lost, says Federation

FederationThe crucial role roads policing officers play in tackling crime needs to be recognised by politicians as levels plummet to the lowest they have been in recorded history, according to Federation lead.

John Giblin spoke of his admiration for roads policing officers and the critical role they play at the National Roads Policing Conference held this week.

He told delegates: “The last year has seen another significant decrease in police finances and front line officers and we now have the fewest number of roads policing officers in England and Wales in recorded history.  Yet the pressure and demands to meet operational requirements and service front line policing needs is as demanding as ever.  The service is losing vital skills, experience and operational resilience that are not being replaced.”

The theme of the conference is technology and innovation and Mr Giblin John spoke of the importance of setting standards and using the best equipment to benefit roads policing nationally.

At the conference, Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, announced £120,000 in funding for station-based cannabis screening devices.

He added that a number of police forces will soon begin using to familiarise themselves with screening technology.“The new devices mean there will be no need to wait for a medical practitioner to advise whether a driver’s condition is the result of taking a drug. That will save time and money. We are also working to get mobile screening devices available.”

Mr Giblin said:  “We can catch more criminals, do more preventative work, gather more vital intelligence and apply that to front line policing if we could harness better co-ordinated equipment use and then make sure we operate it in a consistent way.”
He added: “Policing the roads is a serious, high public profile business and deserves far better understanding from some Chief Officers, PCC's, politicians and HMIC for what it does in keeping the public safe.”

Last year a roads policing officer on duty in South Yorkshire stopped a vehicle on the M1 using ANPR technology, which identified the vehicle as being uninsured.  That stop resulted in the arrest of a number of highly dangerous men intent on causing serious harm to communities through terrorist activity and they were subsequently jailed for long prison terms. 

He also addressed conference on the significant progress that has been made in the last 12 months in relation to managing and handling police pursuits.

Mr Giblin spoke of his respect and admiration for all roads policing officers who on average deal with the trauma and consequences of five deaths per day and twice as many serious injuries on our roads.  

He added:  “These incidents have an unimaginable impact on close family members and friends of the victims, yet police officers are also badly affected by what they have to deal with.  Road collisions require huge amounts of dedicated police time to investigate and support the victims.  Road closures cause untold chaos and expense to the economy, yet it's never ever mentioned by Home Office Ministers as an important role in modern policing.  Policing is not all about crime.  It’s also about dealing with tragedy and no more is that evidenced than by 2000 deaths on our roads each year.”

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