Better roads policing needed to prevent increase in deaths

The importance of how roads in England and Wales are policed has diminished, according to a report by HMICFRS.

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Roads Policing: Not optional. An inspection of roads policing in England and Wales

In the report published today, inspectors state that despite the high number of people killed on the roads in England and Wales each year, often force police and crime plans made little or no reference to roads policing. HMICFRS has made recommendations to encourage the police service to improve.

The inspection found:

  • some good initiatives, but too often the effect of these was unclear due to a lack of analysis and evaluation;
  • when it was identified, good practice wasn’t shared across forces in an effective manner;
  • support provided to national road safety campaigns wasn’t consistent, which adversely affected their effectiveness; and
  • too often we found officers that hadn’t been given the appropriate training and support to allow them to carry out a critical role.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said:

“Our inspection suggests that roads policing, despite the number of road deaths plateauing and likely to increase, is seen as less of a priority than it should be. We found that almost half of local crime plans didn’t include reference to roads policing. This, along with an unclear national strategy, is doing little to help reduce the number of deaths and life-changing accidents which occur on our roads.

“Spending on roads policing has been cut by 34% resulting in fewer officers dealing with offences that cause road deaths. However there is a clear, and pressing, need for government, police and crime commissioners, chief officers, and the College of Policing to recognise the importance of roads policing in reducing death on the roads. We have made recommendations to help the police improve the effectiveness of roads policing in England and Wales. In doing so, we are clear, roads policing is not optional.”

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Roads Policing: Not optional. An inspection of roads policing in England and Wales


  1. In March 2020 we suspended our inspection activity to enable forces and fire and rescue services to focus on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. We deferred this report’s publication as part of this suspension. HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor comments in detail on this as part of his annual assessment of policing, published on 2 July 2020. Our findings in this report are based upon evidence we collected before the pandemic was declared. Care should be taken if seeking to make links between our findings and police performance during the lockdown.
  2. Contact management is the process in which police forces deal with contact from the public. The majority of this is received through police control rooms, either from 101 or 999 calls.
  3. For further information, HMICFRS’s press office can be contacted from 9:00am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 07836 217729.
  4. HMICFRS’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217729.