â€˜Insulting’ to blame police officers for state of roads policing

Gwent Police Federation chair Steve Thorpe says he is disappointed by a BBC Panorama investigation which claimed that “weak policing” is to blame for deaths on our roads.

The documentary, which aired on Monday, was looking into the reasons why deaths and serious injuries are higher than a decade ago, despite vehicles becoming safer.

Steve said: “I became a police officer to uphold the law and to protect the public, and the same is true for all of our colleagues. It is insulting frankly to say officers are in some way to blame for the state of roads policing.

“That responsibility lies with those who took an axe to police budgets during the austerity years, and the effects of that reckless decision continue to be felt. Our colleagues can only do the best they can with the numbers and resources available.”

Steve pointed out that the Federation has consistently warned the UK Government of the consequences of under investment to police budgets.

In 2020, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) revealed that there had been a 34 per cent real terms reduction in spending in England and Wales during 2013 to 2019. This was worth about £120 million.

And between 2015 and 2018, an average of 1,610 people lost their lives each year while many more were seriously injured, the report of two years ago found.

The number of people killed on the roads each year remained stable between 2010 and 2019, after going down for three decades.

Gemma Fox, roads policing lead for the national Police Federation, said: “Many forces have made major improvements since the 2020 report, but we must see further investment to improve safety for colleagues and the public.

“Every roads policing officer I know wants to be pro-active, but this lack of resources has meant the public information side of the role has not been prioritised and this has been really damaging.”