ABD Asks "What Traffic Duties?"
At a time when Home Secretary David Blunkett is telling the West Midlands Police to remove officers from traffic duties to fight street crime the ABD asks "What traffic duties?"
The increasing use of speed cameras under the misguided 'Speed Kills' banner has already led to a disastrous reduction in the numbers of traffic officers actively enforcing driving standards. Criminals know that they can steal a car or motorcycle and drive on our roads with little fear of being stopped. The best the victims can hope for is the return of a burnt out wreck and, possibly, some photographs of their vehicle speeding past a camera.
With Home Office Research Study 206 showing that a large percentage of the truly dangerous drivers are involved in other forms of crime (see below) reliance on the camera for speed enforcement greatly reduces the chance of their criminal activities being detected - a camera can't check what is hidden in the boot!
ABD spokesman Dave Hammond says
"It is distinctly possible that reliance on speed cameras to enforce all traffic laws is, in part, responsible for the increase in street crime. The old system of stopping drivers at the time of the offence not only gave the officer discretion on how to handle the particular offence, but enabled a trained officer to spot signs that the vehicle was involved in other crime. The words "Would you mind if I look in your boot?" struck fear into many criminals, and led to the detection of a significant number of offences. Criminals now know that they can drive from one crime site to the next with impunity. Effective traffic policing would undoubtedly reduce the ability of criminals to move from crime to crime, while keeping our roads safe for all"
- "A criminal can rob a bank in Carlisle and be back in London in a few hours. My own traffic officers arrest more persons for crime than did my CID"
(Peter Joslin, the then Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police and former Chairman of the Association of Chief Police Officers Traffic Committee, speaking in 1994).
- "Most drivers are not criminals but most criminals are drivers ... Routine traffic duties often bring officers into contact with such criminals and traffic patrols continued to make crime a priority during the year - 36 per cent of all arrests made by traffic officers were for crime."
(West Midlands Police, Traffic Division, 1997).
- "The study examined three types of serious traffic offender - the drink driver, the disqualified driver and the dangerous driver - and revealed that many offenders from each group had committed mainstream offences (violence against the person, burglary, robbery, theft and handling, criminal damage, drug offences).
Notes for Editors