Police across the UK have been forced to scrap one in 10 speeding fines issued in a 12-month period – and in some cases, forces have scrapped more than a quarter of the fines handed out to drivers.
According to analysis by Dr Adam Snow, a lecturer in criminology at Liverpool Hope University, more than one in ten of the 2.2million speeding offences recorded in England and Wales in 2016-17 were cancelled – equating to around 241,165 scrapped fines.
Officers in Greater Manchester had to withdraw 33,893, or 28 per cent, of offences – the largest of any police force in the country, according to Home Office statistics. And there are a number of reasons motorists are escaping fines…
Drivers disputing their penalty saw a significant number get off, while administration delays that meant fines issued more than 14-days after the incident in question had to be dropped. Cases were also cancelled due to simple police error regarding the time, nature and location of the offence, or thanks to technical issues with speed camera equipment.
The statistics come just a week after the UK’s roads police chief, Chief Constable Anthony Bagham called for an end to the current “soft” treatment of speeders and the removal of the 10 per cent “buffer” rule. However, Bangham has since been forced to U-turn on his suggestions and back down from his initial statement.
But it’s not that simple. Widespread cuts, in line with the Conservative government’s Austerity agenda, have ravaged forces nationwide – and ultimately, officers can’t be in more than one place at at time.
In fact, Britain’s most senior police officer, Met Police Comissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, has recently criticised the government’s austerity programme for forcing a cut in police number – at a time when he says more officers are needed.
Speaking to LBC Radio, Hogan-Howe said: “The bottom line is there will be less cops. There is only so much you can cut and make efficiencies and then you’ve got to have less police and I’m not sure that’s wise in this city.”
Asked to identify the biggest challenges facing his successor, Hogan-Howe said the first would be “money”. He added: “You need cops. You can’t throw laptops at crowds. You’ve got to deal with the situations you face, so that’s going to be a real challenge.”
Hogan-Howe has become increasingly vocal about the squeeze on police resources as he nears retirement. Last month he said “warning lights are flashing”, after official figures confirmed a rise in murder and knife crime in the capital.
His feelings are matched by David Thompson, chief constable of the West Midlands Police, who said: “There’s 2,200 less police officers here in the West Midlands, since 2010. It’s a big reduction and I’m not surprised some of our visibility feels a bit lower in communities.”
He added that he was having to “look more carefully” at use of resources in criminal investigations, as the force works hard to live within its means, amid an overhaul of its workings (dubbed WMP2020) to create a more efficient organisation.