Road safety strategy should be joint responsibility, MPs told

 

The Home Office, Ministry of Justice and Department of Health (DoH) should all be involved in road safety strategy, MPs have been advised in the wake of previous cuts to traffic police.

Witnesses also told the transport select committee that progress on road safety was affected by the lack of safety targets for local roads, which one campaigner claimed had led to a rise in casualties.  

Campaigners have long questioned the former coalition government's decision to scrap the targets in May 2011.

David Davies, executive director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, told the committee’s inquiry into road traffic law enforcement: ‘We would like to see a strategy which includes all the key Government departments… [with] links to the Home Office, Ministry of Justice as well as the Department for Transport.'

He added: 'We would like to see a strategy which says, well, if roads policing numbers are going to be reduced, how are we going to address that best?’

National research was needed into the most effective deployment of resources and the Home Office should have a proactive programme of type approval for new equipment. The DoH should also be involved, he said.

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said the number of roads policing officers had reduced from 5,635 in 2010 to 4,356 last year - ' we are losing five a week of specialist traffic officers', he warned.

He said the Metropolitan Police had told him this week there was a risk roads could become ‘corridors for criminals’, stating: ‘For that reason, if not for pure road safety reasons, we have to maintain and reinstate those lost traffic officers. That is absolutely crucial.’

He said the recent rise in road casualties was connected to numerous factors. ‘I do believe, and we’re searching for the evidence, that there is a direct relationship between this rise and … the abdication of GB casualty reduction targets.’

Mr Davies said the UK Government had set targets for Highways England and endorsed the EU’s target for 2020. Most parts of the UK had road safety targets. ‘The bit that doesn’t is local roads in England outside London. The situation is a mess at the moment.

‘There isn’t a target against which to judge the current Government’s efforts,' a GB-wide target would be really useful he added..

In the Spending Review, chancellor George Osborne announced a U-turn on further planned cuts to police spending. 'The police protect us and we are going to protect the police,' he said.

 

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