More Roads Policing Officers Are Needed As Road Crashes Soar

Significant investment is needed in roads policing, South Yorkshire Police Federation has said, as the number of people being killed and injured in road crashes hits a record high.

New Department for Transport figures show that, in 2022, 2,715 people around the country were injured or killed, compared to 944 a decade ago. A growing number of crashes were attributed to drug-driving.

South Yorkshire Police Federation Chair Steve Kent said: “Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me, because we’ve moved away from traffic policing and roads policing. We rely on static cameras, and everyone just speeds up and slows down for them. They’re pointless, and what they take away is any kind of governance on the roads, where people’s driving is scrutinised. There’s no checks and balances.

“We need to have significant investment in roads policing and a reintroduction of roads police officers, because I can’t remember the last time I saw a traffic cop patrolling the motorway, and I use the motorway every day. It’s not good enough. There’s too few of them and too many incidents going on.

“Drug and drunk driving, and poor driving, isn’t going to get dealt with by static cameras. We know speed is sometimes a factor in accidents. Of course it is. But we also need to deal with people who are driving inappropriately in slow speed areas, and inappropriately in weather conditions, and the only way we’re going to do that is getting boots on the ground and eyes and ears on the motorway, which will spot this level of driving and then deal with it through education or prosecution.”

Steve said he was also concerned about the impact on the mental health of traffic officers.

He said: “That small number of traffic officers are dealing with a higher number of very serious and often catastrophically traumatic accidents. They need to be given extra support to do that.

“My colleagues are having to attend these incidents and sometimes have to take bad news home to loved ones. That’s a horrendous thing to do. We often think that it’s just the incident itself that can be traumatic for officers and everybody involved, but I can speak personally that one of the most traumatic things I’ve done is telling a mother that her children had been killed in a car accident.

“It haunts me, and that’s just one incident for me, so I can imagine that for our colleagues in traffic who are doing this regularly, it can be absolutely harrowing.

“All officers who are dealing with trauma need to have regular check-ups. Otherwise it just gets bottled up, until one day it bursts out and we have people off with stress or depression.”