Roads policing in the Capital

Alison Gowman, elected member for the City of London Corporation, explores issues surrounding roads policing, with reference to a couple of recently published reports.

As an elected member of the City of London Corporation, I have the opportunity to represent the City on a variety of topics. 

I am the City’s representative on the London Road Safety Council and a member of the City of London Police Authority Board where I lead on roads policing. 

The Board is the equivalent of MOPAC for the Metropolitan Police and a Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) in the rest of the UK. Road danger is key to my engagement in both areas.  

Alison Gowman

The Association of PCCs (APCC) met recently to discuss the latest HMICFRS Inspection report “Roads Policing: not optional” and at the same time heard from Barry Sheerman MP regarding the report of The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). 

Barry is the chair of this group that promotes evidence-based solutions to achieve safe transport for all.  

Whilst I do not want to attribute any opinions to that group I was heartened by the high priority that each PCC gave to this topic, their knowledge, passion and engagement with the issues raised in the inspection and report. The meeting was led by Alison Hernandez PCC for Devon and Cornwall.

Let me summarise the points from the Inspection that I feel are important to all those involved in road danger and reduction of collisions and injuries. The report determined that in some police forces roads policing was inadequate, recommending that roads policing should be a national road strategy and that there should be an obligation to include roads policing in every force strategy. 

There should be a formal review of the work with analytical capacity increased so that the risks and threats are well understood.

Detailed points were made about use of cameras, and transparency on revenue as well as resourcing projects such as Operation Snap (the provision of digital footage of misdemeanours by the public). Training in respect of collision investigation should be upgraded and appropriate welfare support for these specialist investigators. 

This is a briefest of summaries and the full report is available here: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmicfrs/publications/not-optional-an-inspection-of-roads-policing-in-england-and-wales/

The recent PACTS report concluded with many similar points emphasising in particular the devastation caused by road collisions. It highlighted a significant disconnect between the impact and personal loss caused by road traffic collisions totalling  something like 1,800 per annum (being twice the number of murders each year) and the relative paucity of resources.  

The report recommended an increase in the numbers of officers involved as enforcement is shown to reduce collisions and deaths. It encouraged further co-operation across the UK, other forces and other bodies such as local authorities using data proactively.  

The full report is here:
https://www.pacts.org.uk/2020/06/roads-policing-and-its-contribution-to-road-safety-report-from-pacts/

My takeaways from the meeting were based both on what the City of London is and is not doing and what the combined efforts of all forces together could achieve. I was pleased to mention the co-operation between the City Corporation as the local authority with the police, London Fire Brigade and Transport for London as a road danger reduction partnership. 

Complementary powers ensured that engineering, education and enforcement can work together.  Groups such as these need to work more closely together. I also spoke about and promoted the issues that the LRSC sees around those road users in the gig economy who are disproportionately at risk and often untrained and unsupported.  

This and air quality issues were highlighted by Barry Sheerman who saw them as complementary to a successful  roads policing policy.  

Each police force will need to respond to the recommendations in the Inspection and I would urge all to engage and track this process in order to ensure the benefit of these proposals across the UK.