Letter - No traffic officers means lower standards

I have to concur with the comments by Mr Price concerning lawless motorways and a desire for the police to take back control. But it won’t happen.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 11th September 2014, 4:42 pm

Irrespective of how many are killed or injured on our roads, roads policing is simply not a priority for successive governments and indeed successive chief constables.

I was a traffic policeman for some 25 years in West Yorkshire, initially working for 12 years on divisional traffic stationed at South Kirkby which only a couple of decades ago had a compliment of six traffic officers – now of course, long gone.

In 1998 I was posted to the Motorway Unit where I spent my final 12 years. The unit had 32 patrol cars operated by 60 highly­ trained specialist traffic officers whose sole duty was to police the motorway network.

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But the unit was never popular with successive command teams and despite the passion and dedication with which we performed a difficult and often dangerous job, we always felt somewhat undervalued.

In 2010 more and more of our motorway patrols were diverted away from traffic duties to more mundane tasks and it became the norm to routinely patrol the entire motorway network in West Yorkshire (some 250 miles) with just two cars. At this juncture, I formed the opinion that those far higher up the food chain seemed hell bent on killing me and so reluctantly decided to take early retirement from the job I loved.

The present funding cutback and the indifference of senior officers has heralded the end of proper traffic policing inWest Yorkshire.

In the frenzy to adopt the current Neighbourhood Policing mantra, traffic officer posts have been decimated and the few who remain perform a variety of other roles, perhaps a step closer to the ‘omnicompetant’ police officer favoured by some chief constables.

Shortly after my retirement, the motorway unit was axed and some collective 400 years of motorway policing experience and practice vanished almost overnight along with associated roles such as traffic enforcement and the Family Liaison Unit.

Unsurprisingly the removal of traffic officers has seen a corresponding lowering of driving standards on local roads as well as motorways.

Every day I see up to a dozen drivers using a mobile phone now with no likelihood of being caught. In a routine shift and in addition to other duties, it was quite usual for me to process seven or eight drivers for this particular offence.

As Mr Price suggests, motorways seem unsafe and virtually lawless – I now detest driving on them. And the idiots who decided we should drive on the hard shoulder should be gelded with a butter knife....but what do I know?

As the Motorway Unit FLO I was called out to dozens of horrific road deaths in my last few years of service and mine was the knock on the door that everybody dreads.

Perhaps if those making the decisions had accompanied me on just a few of those 50 or so dreadful visits, they might have reconsidered.

But I doubt it.

Don Crossley

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