Brake calls for investment in road policing

New figures show a drop of almost 40% in the number of people caught using phones behind the wheel, with road safety charity Brake calling for urgent investment in road policing.

The figures revealed by the BBC after a freedom of information request show that the number of people caught has dropped from 177,900 to 93,606 between 2011-12 and 2015-16. That is a reduction of almost 40%. The majority of the decrease has been seen in the last two years.

The Police Federation says the number of dedicated road traffic officers has been hugely reduced over the last few years. There has been a 23% reduction in the number of full-time equivalent traffic police officers from 5,635 in 2010 to 4,356 in 2014. Reductions have been experienced in 41 of the 43 forces.

The government recently confirmed plans to double fines and penalty points for using a phone behind the wheel, but without sufficient officers to enforce this, Brake is concerned even the new tougher penalties may not be seen as a real deterrent.

Twenty one police forces (see table below) saw their conviction rate drop by more than half and just two police forces have seen the numbers of people caught increase in that period: Norfolk and West Yorkshire.

Alice Bailey, communications and campaigns advisor for Brake said: “It would be wonderful to think this drop is down to people getting the message about the dangers of mobile phone use, but sadly we don’t think this is the case. A recent report called mobile use behind the wheel ‘an epidemic’, with our own studies showing more half of drivers in some age groups admitting they still use a phone while driving. As our police forces have faced major budget reductions, road traffic officers have too often been seen as a soft option for cuts, they are an essential part of the service and save lives. As the government brings in tougher new penalties for this crime it must make sure it resources our police forces properly so this is a real deterrent.”

 

How many drivers were caught using their mobile phones while driving
2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16
AVON/SOMERSET 1756 1371 1134 1060 854
BEDFORDSHIRE 1607 1421 1250 989 730
CAMBRIDGESHIRE 2268 2998 2840 2476 1828
CHESHIRE 3935 2677 3296 2277 2062
CITY OF LONDON 514 348 229 277 340
CUMBRIA 1383 1129 953 833 634
DERBYSHIRE 1523 1016 1311 1273 1217
DORSET 3539 2186 1531 1214 925 **
DURHAM 881 651 552 417 398
GLOUCESTERSHIRE 1124 868 889 790 857
GREATER MANCHESTER 7605 9140 4534 3024 2885
HAMPSHIRE 5936 5372 5479 6272 4986
HERTFORDSHIRE 3389 3425 3613 2743 1652
HUMBERSIDE 2934 2510 1557 1188 1137
KENT 4496 2747 1404 822 723
LANCASHIRE 6029 4774 2559 971 1093
LEICESTERSHIRE 1567 1324 1410 1209 653 **
LINCOLNSHIRE 1810 1473 1686 1405 1042
MERSEYSIDE 5772 4399 3615 4043 2490
MET 30923 28150 28045 23036 19610
NORFOLK 1935 1586 1022 836 2287
NORTH YORKSHIRE 2215 1412 998 786 702
NORTHANTS 1410 1110 794 658 489
SOUTH YORKSHIRE 3743 2690 2233 1640 1374
SURREY 3854 2655 2597 2339 1646
SUSSEX 5981 4268 2474 1846 1424
THAMES VALLEY 11221 11845 10668 10853 10103
WARWICKS 918 979 773 646 750
WEST MERCIA 2564 2565 3067 2235 2336
WEST MIDLANDS 6694 4100 2684 2140 2818
WEST YORKSHIRE 1335 4489 4741 2453 3107
WILTSHIRE 2008 1462 1372 664 412 **
NORTHERN IRELAND 9561 8420 7849 7193 6550
SCOTLAND 28311 30243 35732 17922 10061
DYFED POWYS 2603 2590 2488 1254 1493
NORTH WALES 1599 1800 1570 1518 1058
SOUTH WALES 2957 1985 1274 1316 880
TOTAL 177900 162178 150223 112618 93606
YR ON YEAR FALL 8.8 7.4 25 16.9

 

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