As the Police and Crime Commissioner for Warwickshire (Local Policing Body), I am providing the following response to the Secretary of State for the Home Office, and also Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS), in respect of the HMICFRS report ‘Roads Policing – Not Optional’ that was published on the 16th July 2020. This action is pursuant to my obligations under Section 55(1) of the Police Act 1996.
Local Policing Body’s Comments
Whilst Warwickshire Police was not one of the seven forces inspected, I nonetheless welcome the Inspectorate’s examination of this critical area of law enforcement and note the report’s assessment that: –
- There were some good initiatives, but too often the effect of these was unclear
due to a lack of analysis and evaluation
- When it was identified, good practice wasn’t shared across forces in an effective manner.
- Support provided to national road safety campaigns wasn’t consistent, which adversely affected their effectiveness; and
- Too often we found officers that hadn’t been given the appropriate training and support to allow them to carry out a critical role.
I also note the comments from Matt Parr as an HM Inspector of Constabulary that: –
“The inspection suggests that roads policing, despite the number of road deaths plateauing and likely to increase, is seen as less of a priority than it should be. We found that almost half of local crime plans didn’t include reference to roads policing. This, along with an unclear national strategy, is doing little to help reduce the number of deaths and life-changing accidents which occur on our roads. There is a clear, and pressing, need for government, police and crime commissioners, chief officers, and the College of Policing to recognise the importance of roads policing in reducing death on the roads. We have made recommendations to help the police improve the effectiveness of roads policing in England and Wales. In doing so, we are clear, roads policing is not optional.”
In carefully reviewing the report I consider the key findings to be: –
- Some of the forces inspected have only adopted parts of the national roads policing strategy.
- Partner agencies are not always involved in police road safety initiatives.
- Policing activity is not based on a comprehensive understanding of the causes of death and serious injury.
- Best practice is not being shared between forces or agencies.
- There are inconsistencies in training and no national accreditation programme for specialist roads policing officers.
- There has been an overall decline in officer numbers in specialist roads policing roles.
- There is a lack of analytical support which means that enforcement activity is ‘haphazard’.
- Only 19 of the 43 forces have listed roads policing as a priority in their police and crime plans.
- Too often organisational structures are implemented without a full understanding of demand.
The recommendations made in the report that are pertinent to Warwickshire are as follows: –
With immediate effect, chief constables should make sure that roads policing is included in their force’s strategic threat and risk assessments, which should identify the areas of highest harm and risk and the appropriate responses.
With immediate effect, chief constables should make sure:
- Their force has enough analytical capability (including that provided by road safety partnerships) to identify risks and threats on the road network within their force area;
- That information shared by partners relating to road safety is used effectively to reduce those risks and threats; and
- There is evaluation of road safety initiatives to establish their effectiveness.
With immediate effect, chief constables should make sure that their force (or where applicable road safety partnerships of which their force is a member), comply with (the current version of) Department for Transport Circular 1/2007 in relation to the use of speed and red-light cameras.
With immediate effect, in forces where Operation Snap (the provision of digital video footage by the public) has been adopted, chief constables should make sure that it has enough resources and process to support its efficient and effective use.
With immediate effect, chief constables should satisfy themselves that the resources allocated to policing the strategic road network within their force areas are sufficient. As part of that process they should make sure that their force has effective partnership arrangements including appropriate intelligence sharing agreements with relevant highways agencies.
With immediate effect, chief constables should make sure that appropriate welfare support is provided to specialist investigators and family liaison officers involved in the investigation of fatal road traffic collisions
In response to these issues that have been identified for the police service to remedy, I have received the following comments from the Chief Constable.
Comments from the Chief Constable
Warwickshire Police supports the report and the recommendations identified. We take our commitment to making the county’s roads as safe as possible extremely seriously. We continue to work closely with the Highways Agency and other partners and actively participate in NPCC Road Safety Campaigns to improve road safety and casualty reduction.
A Roads Policing Strategic Risk Assessment has been created and is nearing sign-off. We have a dedicated Roads Policing Analyst and benefit from the expertise of the Road Safety Partnership analyst, ensuring the picture we use to strategise our responses and preventative work is accurate. The deployment and use of our assets complies with the recommendations within the quoted Circular 1/2007. We have implemented the use of KSI data to inform deployment at mobile and static enforcement sites.
A full-time Road Safety Officer works across several strands of roads policing work and actively engages in preventative and enforcement work, including Community Speedwatch Scheme.
Warwickshire Police has a team of road policing Collision Investigators and Family Liaison Officers. Co-ordinators monitor their welfare, with a solid support structure in place to assist them through the difficult nature of their work.
Comments from the local policing body on the CC’s comments
The Chief Constable is supportive of the report and has provided his assurance that the recommendations will be addressed. I will scrutinise the progress made by Warwickshire Police in achieving these objectives and will both support and ‘hold to account’ the Chief Constable in doing so.
A ‘deep-dive’ into this subject was held with the Chief Constable at the Performance Accountability Meeting in January 2022, which provided an opportunity to review Warwickshire Police’s position considering this report and the recommendations made. A further deep-dive into Road Safety is scheduled for January 2022.
I should also stress that reducing the numbers of casualties on the county’s roads and ensuring they are safe for all users is a key commitment of my current Police and Crime Plan for Warwickshire. The county has adopted the 3 x E’s strategy (Engineering, Enforcement and Education) to Road Safety and activity is coordinated through the Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership, which I chair.
My office also works closely with the police and other partners and organisations who engage and specialise with road safety work. Such agencies include the Department for Transport, National Police Chiefs Council, Warwickshire County Council, district and borough councils in Warwickshire, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service, Highways England, and the charity Brake.
In pursuit of this strategy, I have established a Road Safety Fund to the value of £500,000 to help encourage new and innovative schemes, particularly those supporting the most vulnerable road users using a mix of prevention, education, and enforcement activities. This substantial financial commitment serves to demonstrate the importance and seriousness with which I take this matter of public protection.
This response will be published on the website of the Warwickshire Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).
Philp Seccombe TD
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner