A NEW report says the standard of policing on our roads has diminished, putting lives at risk.

Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services' report found that despite the high number of people killed in England and Wales each year, road policing was seen as “less of a priority than it should be.”

HMICFRS said drug-drivers were also “being tolerated” on the roads as, faced with limited forensic budgets and increased costs, forces have told officers to “restrict the use of screening tests and limit the number of blood samples submitted for analysis.”

The report also found that between 2015 and 2018, the number of breathalyser tests carried out in England and Wales dropped by 25 per cent. Whilst the number of people killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions in which the driver is over the legal blood alcohol limit rose.

Other enforcement measures dropped, with the number of fixed penalty notices issued for not wearing a seatbelt falling 75 per cent, from 86,300 in 2013 to 21,600 in 2018.

Between 2011 and 2017, the number of notices handed out for using a handheld mobile phone while driving dropped by just over 76 per cent, from around 162,400 to 38,600.

An average of 1,610 people lose their lives each year on the roads of England and Wales.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Matt Parr said: “Our inspection suggests that roads policing, despite the number of road deaths plateauing and likely to increase, is seen as less of a priority than it should be. We found that almost half of local crime plans didn’t include reference to roads policing. This, along with an unclear national strategy, is doing little to help reduce the number of deaths and life-changing accidents which occur on our roads.

“With some notable exceptions, forces were unable to demonstrate that their enforcement activity was based on a comprehensive understanding of the causes of deaths and serious injury on the roads in their area.

“Best practice, such as problem-solving approaches to reducing serious collisions, isn’t being shared effectively.”

In response, Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Jones, for West Mercia Police, said: “Safer roads is a force priority for West Mercia Police. Our Chief Constable, Anthony Bangham, who is the national lead for Road Safety and Roads Policing, is passionate about this vital area of policing. He welcomes the findings of today’s HMICFRS report, which he hopes will re-invigorate the commitment to road safety."

“Within force, we have a robust Roads Policing and Roads Safety Strategy in place with well-established working relationships with our partner agencies."

“I am encouraged that our serious injuries and road deaths are down across the three counties within West Mercia, but we recognise there is much to do, as the report outlines, as any road death is one too many.

“As a force, our work is intelligence led and road safety is no exception. Our Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, working together with Roads Policing Teams, create bespoke local road safety and policing responses across the area.

“We have recently taken part in the national two week speed enforcement campaign detecting over 4,000 speeding offences (a mixture of camera activity and officer lead enforcement) across West Mercia, placing us as one of the highest performing forces across the UK during the campaign. This is just one aspect of our work, which covers a variety of both enforcement and educational elements, not only with motorists but other road users, with our most recent campaign regarding seatbelts also proving successful.

“But we aren’t complacent. There is more to be done. We are currently in a programme of increasing dedicated Roads Policing Officers which will further strengthen our ability to police the roads. We will continue to work with local and national partners, exploring the findings and recommendations of this report and implementing best practice.

“Road safety and a robust Roads Policing response will absolutely continue to be a priority for the Force.”