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Only 34 traffic cops left in Dorset
DORSET has lost a third of its traffic cops in the last year, figures have revealed.
The number of officers specially trained to deal with traffic incidents has fallen from nearly 50 in early 2012 to 34 full time equivalent posts now.
The cull is due to savage Government funding cuts and comes at a time when the number of lives lost on the county’s roads rose by almost a third in 2012 from 19 to 25.
Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said reducing the number of people killed or seriously harmed in road accidents is one of his key priorities over the next five years.
But added with the force having to find another £13 million worth of savings by 2014/15, he simply does not have the resources to hire more traffic officers.
The Commissioner added: “I don’t’ think the deaths are connected to the reduction in traffic officers. We all know the main reason is that people are not driving responsibly.
“There are no plans at present to cut any more but I also have no plans, or resources, to increase the traffic department at Dorset Police.”
Clive Chamberlain, chairman of Dorset Police Federation, said: “It is genuinely worrying – traffic cops are concerned about what’s happening but it’s due to funding and how the force prioritises its services.”
He added: “Deaths or injury on the roads still remains the most significant harm to the public in Dorset.
“There has been an increase in our road deaths and there are now less people available with the specialist knowledge to deal with them.
“Technology in some areas has replaced officers which is what I feared would happen. But speed cameras are one dimensional – they only take a photo or record a car going at a certain speed.
“They cannot tell whether someone is drink or drug driving, driving dangerously or whether the car is stolen.”
Cllr Michael Filer, Bournemouth council’s Cabinet member for Transport, added: “This is very worrying news. I am concerned particularly about safety and I will be taking this up at a meeting with the police and the Police and Crime Commissioner.”
Earlier this week the Echo reported that 25 lives were lost in 23 road accidents in Dorset last year.
Dorset’s top traffic officer Insp Matt Butler said the biggest factor in road deaths are the ‘fatal four’ – severity of injury due to not wearing a seatbelt, excess speed, not paying attention, and drink or drug driving.
Speaking about the tragic road death toll, Mr Underhill said: “I extend sympathy to those families and friends who have lost loved ones through horrid road tragedy.
“I will continue to highlight to the Government the importance of properly-funded road and traffic policing.
“I would like to remind road users to pay attention, expect the unexpected, slow down, always wear your seatbelt and never ever drink and drive. By doing so lives are saved."