The Big Read: Safety on Northamptonshire’s roads

The number of traffic police in the county has increased
The number of traffic police in the county has increased

New research shows the number of traffic police has reduced over the past five years.

However, Northamptonshire Police is bucking the trend and has increased the number of offices patrolling the roads.

Research carried out by road safety charity Brake and and published this week shows traffic police numbers across Great Britain have decreased by 12 per cent in five years. In Northamptonshire, however, the number has gone up by 28.63 per cent, from 36.54 in 2008 to 47 officers in 2012. Neighbouring Bedfordshire has cut its traffic police numbers by 43.55 per cent, from 62 officers in 2008 to just 35 in 2012.

The charity is concerned the cuts will lead to forces struggling to enforce vital safety laws, such as on drink driving, speeding and mobile phone use, and could undermine a new drug driving law expected to come into force next year.

According to Brake’s statistics, five people are killed on UK roads every day and 63 seriously injured. It is calling on the Government to make roads policing a national policing priority, and ensure traffic policing is sufficiently resourced to tackle drunk, drugged and other dangerous driving.

Julie Townsend, Brake’s deputy chief executive, said: “It is desperately worrying such large cuts continue to be made to traffic policing, just as progress is being made to improve the law on deadly drug driving. Roads police officers do a vital job enforcing important safety laws and protecting the public. Cutting traffic police is a false economy, because the crashes and casualties they help to prevent inflict such devastation and are a huge drain on public services. These cuts also undermine progress being made by government to tackle drug driving because as much as we need a new drug driving law and screening devices, we also need the officers out there to enforce it. We urge the Government to make roads policing a national policing priority.”

The Government is bringing in a new offence of driving with illegal drugs in your body similar to the drink drive limit, and provision for police to use roadside drug screening devices. Currently, prosecutors have to prove a driver is “impaired” by drugs, which is difficult and means prosecutions are relatively few.

20mph campaign success

A new 20mph speed limit is expected to come into force in Geddington at the end of the summer.

Campaigners in the village have been fighting for the change for a number of months and, according to a traffic order created by Northamptonshire County Council, their fight has been a success.

The new limit, which includes a large number of residential streets, will be in place at the end of the summer.

Geddington Primary School head teacher Sue Spooner said she was delighted with the decision.

She added: “Someone came into the school some time ago to speak to the children about the speed limit in Geddington and our eco council and school council decided they wanted to get involved.

“The children took posters home which said ‘20 is Plenty’ and they said they would also spread the message by speaking to their parents.”

The list of affected streets is: Wood Street, Chase Farm, Bakehouse Hill, Church Hill, Malting Lane, Bridge Street, Queen Street, West Street, Grafton Road, Queen Eleanor Road, Chase Hill, The Woodlands, Chase View Road, Bright Trees Road, Fern Dale Close, Slade Close and Hall’s Close.

Residents to monitor speed

Councillors in Desborough have decided to help monitor speeding traffic in the town themselves after signing up to a scheme offered by Northamptonshire Police.

But councillors have appealed for people in Desborough to pledge their support for the initiative, with 500 people needed to back it before it can be given the go-ahead.

Councillors plan to target hotspots including Dunkirk Avenue, which they say is used by many as a rat run from one side of the town to the other, as well as the main Harborough and Rothwell Roads.

A police spokesman said: “Community Speed Watch enables local people to become actively involved in helping to slow down traffic in 30mph zones in their community.

“Members of the community are trained in the use of hand-held speed monitoring devices to track the speed of motorists in their parish. The force will then send out warning letters to the drivers.

“Each community involved in the programme will receive support from their local safer community team as well as a vehicle-activated speed sign to highlight to motorists how fast they are travelling.”