Would you like to see more police on the roads?

Do you think that there are too many police on the UK’s roads or not enough of them?

To be honest, since I started driving abroad one of the things I miss is the control that I always felt was in place on Britain’s roads. Here in South America I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone get stopped for a traffic offence. I even went a wee bit over the speed limit to try it out once and absolutely nothing happened. No flash of a speed camera (there ain’t any) and no policeman bursting out of his hiding spot with a speed gun in his sweaty hand.

I drive my daughter to nursery and back twice a day and there isn’t a single day that I don’t see cars without licence plates, motorcyclists without helmets, people going through red lights and, rather more weirdly, people riding on motorcycles with their entire family on board.

Yet, in the UK I always felt as though anyone doing anything wrong would eventually be caught. Public faith in the cops seems to be getting eroded though, as a recent RAC report suggested that 40% of UK motorists don’t think that motorists committing offences will get caught.

The Figures

Chinese Traffic Police – Photo credit: Beijing Patrol

So have policing levels fallen or is it just our perception? Back in 2012 the MP Julian Huppert investigated the matter, and discovered that the number of cops on the road had fallen by 29% in the previous decade, from 7,000 to under 5,000. During the same the total number of police in the country had stayed fairly constant.

The areas with the biggest falls in this period were Devon and Cornwall, Warwickshire and West Mercia. Conversely, numbers rose in Cleveland and Nottinghamshire.

The falling numbers certainly seem to have had an effect on the confidence of the driving public. For example, that RAC survey discovered that over half of drivers wouldn’t expect someone to get caught if texting while driving. Only 24% thought that tailgaters would meet with some sort of justice.

  • Do you think that more police on the roads would be a good thing?

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