TACKLING deaths on the roads in Herefordshire and surrounding counties is a top priority, West Mercia Police have said.

The force has confirmed its ongoing commitment to reducing deaths on the roads following the release of a report by HMICFRS outlining the findings of their inspection of roads policing.

In the report published on July 15, inspectors state that despite the high number of people killed on the roads in England and Wales each year, often force police and crime plans made little or no reference to roads policing.

Inspectors said some good initiatives were found, but too often the effect of these was unclear due to a lack of analysis and evaluation, good practice wasn’t shared across forces in an effective manner, support provided to national road safety campaigns wasn’t consistent, which adversely affected their effectiveness, and too often they found officers that hadn’t been given the appropriate training and support to allow them to carry out a critical role.

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.

“Spending on roads policing has been cut by 34% resulting in fewer officers dealing with offences that cause road deaths. However there is a clear, and pressing, need for government, police and crime commissioners, chief officers, and the College of Policing to recognise the importance of roads policing in reducing death on the roads. We have made recommendations to help the police improve the effectiveness of roads policing in England and Wales. In doing so, we are clear, roads policing is not optional.”

In response to the findings, West Mercia Police assistant chief constable Rachel Jones 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.

“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."

Ms Jones said a recent speed enforcement campaign had seen the force placed as one of the highest performing across the UK, with more than 4,000 offences detected, and a recent seatbelt campaign also proved successful.

She said the force is increasing dedicated roads policing officers, and will continue to work with local and national partners to explore the findings and recommendations of this report and implementing best practice.