"Fewer roads police, but more work than ever"
26 January 2017
Andrew Jones MP, CC Suzette Davenport and PC Jayne Willetts
Despite an ongoing battle with the 'fatal four' causes of death and serious injury on the roads, the number of specialist officers has now fallen below 5,000. PC Jayne Willetts, the PFEW's lead on roads policing, opened the 6th Annual Roads Policing Conference and Exhibition by highlighting the dwindling number of police officers on our roads.
The use of mobile phones at the wheel is fast becoming a key issue for stretched roads policing officers. "I welcome the changes to legislation which are coming into effect on 1 March, meaning increased fines for mobile phone offences," said Jayne Willetts. "However, the increase of the fine to £200 and six points on a driving license will still not be a deterrent to some of the hard-core and conditioned drivers who will continue using their phones while driving."
"The legislation is still lacking for these offences, and does not take into account the use of phone watches. As technology is rapidly progressing, I fear our legislation is already behind the times. Is the seizure of mobile phones or their SIM cards - along with an education system - the way forward, combined with fines? I don’t know, but it’s a question worth asking."
Transport Minister Andrew Jones MP, who thanked the delegates for their tireless work, agreed that the legislation needed an update. Mr Jones said that the Ministry of Justice's consultation into driving offenses and penalties relating to causing death or serious injury could result in more changes to legislation later in the year. The minister welcomed feedback from anyone who wanted to contribute to the consultation, which closes on 1 February.
"The thin blue line is now so thin on our roads system that we almost to the point of being invisible," said Jayne Willetts. "Our roads policing officers are specialists in their fields and we cannot afford to lose any more from the front line - they are the protection on our roads from criminality, protection from ‘offenders' who abuse and disregard speed limits, tailgate, use their phone when driving, the list goes on."
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