SAVAGE cuts to traffic police have seen their number slashed by nearly a third, breakdown firm AA said yesterday.
A Freedom of Information request to 45 police forces revealed numbers of traffic police had fallen by 30 per cent in the last 10 years — 24 per cent over the last five years under Tory and Lib Dem rule.
The findings coincide with an increase in the death toll on Britain’s roads to five a day and cast doubt on whether police will be able to enforce new road safety laws, such as a ban on using mobile phones while driving.
The AA said the decline could also see more drivers getting away with crimes.
A spokesman for the motoring association said: “We need more cops in cars, not fewer.
“Britain has among the safest roads in Europe, although the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads has started to rise after many years of steady decline. Maybe there is a link?
“Even senior officers have publicly expressed concern at the falling number of their colleagues.”
Labour policing and crime shadow minister Louise Haigh, a former special constable, said: “These savage cuts will deeply alarm the public as reckless drivers will feel able to offend with impunity.
“There have been a number of new driving offences in the last few years, not least relating to phones and the new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving.
“The police don’t stand a cat-in-hell’s chance of pursuing and convicting people under these offences with ever-constrained resources.”
Jason Wakeford, from road safety charity Brake, said that five traffic deaths a day was “unacceptable.”
He stressed: “The government and police forces have to start treating road policing as a national priority and reverse the savage cuts to officer numbers.”
Jayne Willetts, roads policing official for the Police Federation of England of Wales which represents rank-and-file officers, said cuts meant specialist roads policing officers now face added demands.
“They are having to attend calls for help from the public in addition to patrolling the road network to target travelling criminality,” she said.
“Unfortunately the thin blue line is becoming too thin.”