Brake calls for urgent investment in road policing after huge drop in drivers caught on mobiles

news@brake.org.uk

28 September 2016

New figures revealed by the BBC after a freedom of information request show that the number of people caught using phones at the wheel has dropped from 177,900 to 93,606 between 2011-12 and 2015-16. That is a reduction of almost 40%. The majority of the decrease has been seen in the last two years.

The Police Federation says the number of dedicated road traffic officers has been hugely reduced over the last few years.  There has been a 23% reduction in the number of full-time equivalent traffic police officers from 5,635 in 2010 to 4,356 in 2014. Reductions have been experienced in 41 of the 43 forces. (Full breakdown of police forces available here in a response to a Written Question Jack Dromey MP, responded to on 2 Feb 2015).

The government recently confirmed plans to double fines and penalty points for using a phone behind the wheel, but without sufficient officers to enforce this, Brake is concerned even the new tougher penalties may not be seen as a real deterrent.

21 police forces (see table in notes to editors below) saw their conviction rate drop by more than half and just two police forces have seen the numbers of people caught increase in that period: Norfolk and West Yorkshire.

Alice Bailey, communications and campaigns advisor for Brake, said: “It would be wonderful to think this drop is down to people getting the message about the dangers of mobile phone use, but sadly we don’t think this is the case. A recent report called mobile use behind the wheel 'an epidemic', with our own studies showing more than half of drivers in some age groups admit they still use a phone while driving. As our police forces have faced major budget reductions, road traffic officers have too often been seen as a soft option for cuts. They are an essential part of the service and save lives. As the government brings in tougher new penalties for this crime, it must make sure it resources our police forces properly so this is a real deterrent.” 

ENDS.

NOTES TO EDITORS

             

Essex, Northumbria and Gwent declined to respond

         

Cleveland, Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire failed to respond in time

       

Leicestershire is calendar year rather than financial year

       

Wiltshire figures only include penalty points or progressed to court

     
                   
     

How many drivers were caught using their mobile phones while driving

                   
     

2011-12

2012-13

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

   

AVON/SOMERSET

 

1756

1371

1134

1060

854

   

BEDFORDSHIRE

 

1607

1421

1250

989

730

   

CAMBRIDGESHIRE

 

2268

2998

2840

2476

1828

   

CHESHIRE

   

3935

2677

3296

2277

2062

   

CITY OF LONDON

 

514

348

229

277

340

   

CUMBRIA

   

1383

1129

953

833

634

   

DERBYSHIRE

 

1523

1016

1311

1273

1217

   

DORSET

   

3539

2186

1531

1214

925

 

**

DURHAM

   

881

651

552

417

398

   

GLOUCESTERSHIRE

 

1124

868

889

790

857

   

GREATER MANCHESTER

7605

9140

4534

3024

2885

   

HAMPSHIRE

 

5936

5372

5479

6272

4986

   

HERTFORDSHIRE

 

3389

3425

3613

2743

1652

   

HUMBERSIDE

 

2934

2510

1557

1188

1137

   

KENT

   

4496

2747

1404

822

723

   

LANCASHIRE

 

6029

4774

2559

971

1093

   

LEICESTERSHIRE

 

1567

1324

1410

1209

653

 

**

LINCOLNSHIRE

 

1810

1473

1686

1405

1042

   

MERSEYSIDE

 

5772

4399

3615

4043

2490

   

MET

   

30923

28150

28045

23036

19610

   

NORFOLK

   

1935

1586

1022

836

2287

   

NORTH YORKSHIRE

 

2215

1412

998

786

702

   

NORTHANTS

 

1410

1110

794

658

489

   

SOUTH YORKSHIRE

 

3743

2690

2233

1640

1374

   

SURREY

   

3854

2655

2597

2339

1646

   

SUSSEX

   

5981

4268

2474

1846

1424

   

THAMES VALLEY

 

11221

11845

10668

10853

10103

   

WARWICKS

 

918

979

773

646

750

   

WEST MERCIA

 

2564

2565

3067

2235

2336

   

WEST MIDLANDS

 

6694

4100

2684

2140

2818

   

WEST YORKSHIRE

 

1335

4489

4741

2453

3107

   

WILTSHIRE

 

2008

1462

1372

664

412

 

**

NORTHERN IRELAND

 

9561

8420

7849

7193

6550

   

SCOTLAND

 

28311

30243

35732

17922

10061

   

DYFED POWYS

 

2603

2590

2488

1254

1493

   

NORTH WALES

 

1599

1800

1570

1518

1058

   

SOUTH WALES

 

2957

1985

1274

1316

880

   
                   

TOTAL

   

177900

162178

150223

112618

93606

   

YR ON YEAR FALL

   

8.8

7.4

25

16.9

   

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes.

Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaignscommunity educationservices for road safety professionals and employers, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week.

Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs. 

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.