Not enough officers to police roads

Senior police officers admitted that drivers are routinely getting away with using mobile phones at the wheel because police forces do not have enough staff to stop them.

Two forces told MPs that cuts to the number of officers on road patrol mean the risk of getting caught for traffic offences is ‘probably less than it used to be’.

The Daily Mail reported that last night MPs and road safety campaigners described the trend as ‘very concerning’ and said it put the public at a higher risk from reckless driving.

Official figures released recently show an increase in the number of drivers spotted using mobiles whilst driving. Studies have also repeatedly suggested that talking or texting on a phone while driving, even on a hands-free set, is more dangerous than being over the legal alcohol limit.

However, prosecutions by magistrates for using a mobile phone at the wheel, which has been an illegal now for more than a decade, have halved in the last five years.

Giving evidence to MPs yesterday, Inspector Steve Cox of Wiltshire Police said, ‘There are less road police than there were in the past so the chance of being caught is probably less than it used to be.’

Labour MP Graham Stringer, who sits on the committee said, ‘The evidence we heard is very concerning.’

‘It’s clear the technological approach to policing hasn’t made up for the reduction in police numbers and fewer people are challenged for road traffic infringements including using mobile phones as well as driving without insurance. This puts the public more at risk.’