Police have denied there has been a major cut in road traffic officer numbers on the roads of West Yorkshire.
The force was responding to a claim by the road safety charity Brake that UK-wide lives are at risk due to an 11 per cent cut over five years in officers assigned to roads policing duties.
A force spokesman described its local reduction as only a “very slight decrease” in traffic officers totals between 2007 and 2011, West Yorkshire Police road traffic officer totals between 2007 and 2011 were respectively 323, 283, 296, 315 and 296 - an 8.3 per cent fall when comparing start to finish.
The spokesman stated that following the “success” of a new Regional Roads Policing Team introduced in 2008, West Yorkshire had launched a “more effective roads policing structure” last year.
The structure with hubs in west, east and southern parts of the force works with the Roads Crime and Major Collision Enquiry teams.
Brake figures from forces in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland show cuts in traffic officers over the five years were six times greater than those in overall police officer numbers.
Police totals fell by 1.78 per cent from from 137,119 in 2007 to 134,679 in 2011, but roads police totals dropped 11.55p per cent from 5805 to 5135. The highest of 37 per cent being in Wales.
The group claims “widespread and dramatic” cuts in roads police threaten lives through increased drink and drug driving and illegal use of mobile phones.It states that in 1999 in England and Wales there had been 7,525 designated traffic police but this dropped to 6,511 by 2005. Brake urges government action to end the cuts.
“International evidence shows enforcement of traffic laws is highly effective in preventing deaths and injuries by deterring drivers from potentially deadly behaviour. Increasing numbers of breath test is shown to lead to reductions in drink drive casualties,”
In December, England and Wales forces breath-tested nearly 157,000 drivers – an eight per cent fall on December 2010 test totals.
Tests throughout the year remained low at two per cent of drivers.