NOT ENOUGH: More resources needed to tackle road menace
Police car in the UK
The amount of police resources spent on road safety in West Yorkshire is still “not enough” to meet targets, according to one of the force’s most senior officers.
Ed Chesters, chief superintendent for West Yorkshire Police’s operational support division, told a meeting that while resources were depleted for road policing in West Yorkshire, budget pressures had led to some other forces to scrapping the division altogether.
The comments came during a discussion at Leeds City Council’s Infrastructure Scrutiny Board, which is set to hold an inquiry into the number of people killed and seriously injured (known as KSI figures) on roads in and around Leeds.
Chair of the committee Coun Paul Truswell (Lab) said: “Up to 2010, the KSI figures were reducing, targets were based on that reduction.
“Since 2010, the figures have at best plateaued and, at worst, have increased. There is now quite a gulf between the targets we set ourselves and the actual reality.”
Ch Supt Chesters told the meeting: “West Yorkshire, compared to other forces across the UK, did see the sense in retaining roads policing resource.
“There are other forces across the country who, because of resource and demand conflict, decided to dispense with roads policing specialists and are suffering significant issues as a result of that.
“West Yorkshire were prescient enough to retain resources in that sphere. I personally don’t think there are enough, if I’m being blunt.
“I could talk thorough the deployment pattern for today – we have some, but I don’t think it’s sufficient for what we are trying to achieve.”
He said that preventative measures were needed in order to stop people from getting into situations in which getting killed or seriously injured on the road was likely.
He added: “We are very clear that a 12-year-old on a quad bike motoring around an estate clearly is a potential KSI statistic of future weeks and months.
“So we do come back to the partnership effort to intervene early, so we can hopefully prevent rather than react.”
Statistics set out in a report published by Leeds City Council showed a three per cent fall in KSI numbers in Leeds in 2019, compared with the average from 2014-2018. This was much smaller than in the other West Yorkshire districts, which ranged from 13 to 21 per cent.
Coun Bob Gettings (Ind) argued that, while the public understood the police had more serious crimes to deal with than antisocial motorists, there was a perception that the issue was often not being dealt with at all.
He said: “It is a matter of perception. People don’t understand why police, after they have been called away to deal with something more urgent, they don’t understand why the police don’t come back and deal with the issue.
“In the end you give up on it because you are so busy, but the public perception remains.
“It is frustrating and there is a perception that nothing has been done while there are idiots driving at great speed.”
West Yorkshire Police road safety expert Insp Nick Berry said: “We are all concerned about speed, because speed takes lives. That’s what kills people.
“There are a range of operational tactics we can deploy as a partnership. It’s not just about taking people to court.
“I think primarily, the starting point is getting evidence and understanding the time of day, the type of driver and type of vehicle – that is something we can improve upon.
“Approaches to saving lives should be evidence based.”
He added education, and public engagement would help the public understand why driving towards the top end of legal speed limits in certain areas, such as near schools, might still be inappropriate.
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter
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