Tell your PCC candidates road crime is real crime
Roads policing is not a Cinderella service
On 5 May elections take place in every police force area within England and Wales (except in London and Greater Manchester), to elect Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) for the next four years. This matters to cyclists and other vulnerable road users because your PCC:
1. Sets the force budget and determines the precept (the amount added to your council tax to raise additional funds for your police force);
2. Decides the percentage of that budget which is allocated to roads policing;
3. Sets out in their Police and Crime Plan (PCP) the priority they decide to give to roads policing;
4. Holds the Chief Constable to account for the delivery of the roads policing targets and priorities they determine.
Put simply, your PCC has a decision to make. Do they treat roads policing as a Cinderella service to be slashed when any central funding cuts bite, or do they decide to prioritise roads policing?
Ten years of cuts and an invisible service
Cycling UK's President Jon Snow has written to the candidates to find out which choice they plan to make, and you can view their responses, or failure to respond, on our Vote Bike 2016 results page by clicking on your police force area on the PCC map of England and Wales.
The responses of the candidates for the Welsh constituency and assembly elections to separate questions regarding cycling funding and increased open access can also be seen on separate maps on the same page.
Ten years ago, full-time equivalent traffic police officers accounted for 5% of total officer numbers nationally. Now they account for 3.4% of total numbers following a 37% reduction in traffic officer numbers, whilst overall officer numbers fell by just 3.5%.
PCCs might not be able to avoid central government funding cuts, but they do decide where to wield the axe when they chop police services. Traffic policing has too often been the easy option, and in some areas visible roads policing has been all but eliminated.
Neglecting road safety with impunity
The consequences of this were outlined last month within the Transport Committee’s road traffic enforcement inquiry report, which concluded that for enforcement to be successful "there must be the likelihood that offenders will be apprehended", and that the lack of specialist dedicated road traffic officers meant that "minor offences such as careless driving cannot be effectively detected and enforcement action taken".
The Committee also recommended that the number of specialist roads policing officers should be maintained, and that no force should be allowed "to neglect its road safety obligations with impunity", as the reduction in overall road traffic offences recorded did not represent a reduction in offences committed, but rather a fall in the number of offences being detected as traffic officer numbers have decreased.
That is why Cycling Uk have asked each PCC candidate this question:
'If elected as PCC, will you commit to increase the amount allocated to roads policing within the force budget by at least 2% above inflation each year for the next four years, and by more if that is what is required to ensure that traffic police officer numbers within the force account for 5% of total officer numbers within four years?'
Will your candidates Vote Bike 2016?
Our Vote Bike 2016 results page records a yes or no answer for each candidate who has responded, and any relevant 'bankable' promises where candidates have declined to give the commitment sought but have pledged something regarding either funding, police numbers or the priority to be given to roads policing within their PCP.
You can also click on our Vote Bike online tool to email your respective candidates and ask why they have not responded, thank them for giving the commitment asked for, or question why they have declined to do so.
PCC promises or prevarications?
A number of candidates have confirmed that road safety and roads policing are priority issues for them, and that they would like to increase funding, but say they cannot do so without further consideration of the available budget. They are missing the point that we have not asked for a commitment regarding the total amount to be spent on roads policing, merely an increase in the percentage of their budget they spend on this.
Roads policing has born the brunt of cuts for 10 years. It is frankly time that roads policing was prioritised and PCCs looked elsewhere for savings if further central funding cuts are imposed on them. That is a political decision they can make, if they want your vote.
Some candidates of various political colours seem to grasp this, with the following all immediately giving the commitment sought:
1. Hertfordshire Kerry Pollard Labour
2. North Wales Arfon Jones Plaid Cymru
3. Avon & Somerset Chris Green Green.
4. Dyfed & Powys Richard Church Liberal Democrat
If you want your PCC to treat road crime as real crime, reverse the decline in traffic officer numbers and prioritise roads policing, please use our Vote Bike 2016 results page to check what if anything they have said in response to Jon Snow's letter.
If that isn't good enough to earn your vote then you can click here on our Vote Bike online tool to contact them and ask for a firmer commitment.
Cycling UK will be recording all commitments given by the candidates elected on the 5 May, so they can be held to account over the next four years.