Police forces hindered by budget cuts as drink and drug-driving offences increase

Published 16 July 2020

Between 2015 and 2018, the number of breathalyser tests carried out in England and Wales dropped by 25 percent, from 425,325 to 320,988. The figures are part of an independent report by HM Inspectorate called 'Roads Policing: Not optional'.

Although the number of breath tests carried out by the police has dropped, the proportion of them that proved to be positive (or were refused) has increased from 11.9 percent in 2015, to 15.2 percent in 2018. This suggests that underlying offending behaviours may have increased.

According to the inquiry on road policing, the volume of blood samples taken following positive roadside drug tests also exceeded the capacity of forensic service providers. This resulted in backlogs and the time limit for prosecutions being missed.

Faced with limited forensic budgets and increased costs, forces have told officers to restrict the use of screening tests and limit the number of blood samples submitted for analysis. One force was restricted to nine submissions per month, so officers were discouraged from being proactive.

Police inspectors said staff cuts were so acute that one force had just one traffic officer to patrol the county at some points and in another traffic officers clocked off at 2am due to shortages even though it was peak time for drunk or dangerous driving.

The report stated that police spending on roads policing in England and Wales fell by 34 per cent between 2012-13 and 2019-20.

They concluded roads policing in some forces was “inadequate” with only 19 of the 43 forces listing it as a priority in their plans. In one force plan, there was no reference to roads or road safety at all.

Penalty notices for using mobile phones at the wheel fell by 76 per cent from 2011 to 2017, and fines for not wearing seat belts dropped by 75 per cent as deaths rose.

Comments

Cedric Lightfoot    on 17 July 2020

Efficiency savings - the country voted for this whether intentionally or not.

malcolmghenderson    on 20 July 2020

The Conservatives are disgraceful-supposedly the party of law & order (supposedly many other things too-tax, defence, business-Boris comments)

Peter Axworthy    on 21 July 2020

I was driving in the afternoon a week ago and had to take a sharp bend. My back near side wheel clipped the kerb. No one injured and no damage to my car or the kerb. Next minute from nowhere blues and two's pulled me up.The officer got out of her police car and said she thought I was unfit to drive. I explained that it was a little error on my part. Next minute there were three other police cars in a line behind me with all lights flahing. I said to the poice woman what the hell is all this? Am I enemy number one. She said I need to do a breatheliser.I explained to her it is 4PM in the afternoon. She said so what! I passed the test with zero alchohol. She then said I need to wait to do a drug test. This was now when I explained that I am a 57 year old guy who needs to get home after 20 minutes detained in my car. After another 15 minutes another car turned up while the other 4 left. A young lad in uniform got of the car and said I was free to go. I said to him "who the hell are you to say I am free to go"? He was sheepish.
In answer to the article .... Those officers wasted their time and mine that day not encouraging support. They look away from deliberate destruction because they are told to stand down but go for the little mistakes in life to show they are strong. How much money did it cost the Tax payer for that 30 minutes or so stopped by the road side while drivers who drove by thinking.... Good they got a criminal.
Sadly this is how it is.

Bruce Dibben    on 21 July 2020

The last "comment, driver clips kerb" cannot be taken seriously as we only have his take on the four police vehicle saga. However, Honest Johns report on the unbelievable shortage of traffic police in some counties, beggars belief, and I and many others hope that your newspaper will hold those police area commanders to task. Individual readers of this depressing report have no chance of bending the ear of our government but the Telegraph a Tory newspaper can move mountains to shame our present leaders to give your readers some feasible excuse for inexcusable policing. I imagine COVID 19 will be the excuse for every failing but Honest John, we challenge you to help our country as well and report on its failings.

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