The number of school crossing patrols funded by Hounslow Council has fallen by more than 90% in the last five years – the largest decline in Great Britain – new BBC figures show.
The figures, obtained via Freedom of Information requests to councils, reveal that there are now 5,461 council funded school crossing patrols (SCPs) in Great Britain – compared to 7,010 in 2013 – an average decline of 22%.
The largest decline between 2013 and 2018 was in Hounslow (91% fall), followed by Newcastle-upon-Tyne (89%), Wokingham (80%), North Somerset (73%) and East Dunbartonshire (63%).
Also in the top 10 is Brent, where the council now fund 53% fewer SCPs.
Road safety charity Brake says the decline in SCPs is ‘jeopardising lives’.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, told the BBC:
“Last year, 1,638 children were killed or seriously injured while cycling or walking on British roads – that’s more than four families receiving devastating news every day.
“We need action now, with investment in safe crossings for children, more investment in cycling and walking infrastructure and 20mph speed limits as the default in communities.”
Stephen Twigg, a Labour MP who campaigns to improve road safety by schools, said parents will be concerned.
“School crossing patrols play a vital part in preventing tragedies from occurring but they have borne the brunt of cuts in government funding to local authorities in recent years.
“The safety of children should not be compromised as a result.”
As part of its investigation, the BBC contacted every local authority with responsibility for SCPs. Two thirds of councils replied with comparable data, meaning the real loss of staff ‘could be substantially higher’, according to the broadcaster.
About 85% of authorities that responded to the Freedom of Information request had cut SCP numbers since 2013 – while only 7% had increased them.
However, the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents local councils, says they are trying to maintain SCPs ‘wherever possible’.
Martin Tett, LGA transport spokesman, said:
“Many councils have been forced to review this discretionary service due to significant pressures on their budgets and increasing demand for statutory services, such as children’s services and adult social care.”
19 December 2018