Police are increasingly using on-board camera footage posted online by motorists to prosecute offenders, as the number of specialized traffic patrols declines.
Official police data provided to Auto Express shows the number of traffic officers patrolling UK roads has fallen by 16% since 2015, following a longer-term trend.
Meanwhile, 38 of the UK’s 45 police forces have adopted the National Dash Cam Safety Portal, a website launched three years ago by dashcam maker Nextbase, which allows drivers to upload footage of violations. suspected traffic routes for police examination. More than 50,000 clips have been uploaded, and Nextbase says a third have resulted in police action, from warning letters to prosecution.
PC Lee Barton of the West Mercia Police Traffic Enforcement Division said 98% of downloads his force processes result in police action, but only 2% are for serious offenses such as reckless driving .
He added: “The handling of a reported traffic violation has gone from police duty hours to minutes. People are now reporting things that happened on the road that before they wouldn’t have cared.
According to Barton, on a typical 10-hour shift in a patrol car, two officers can stop an average of five vehicles among other tasks, while one officer can track a much larger number of cases at the same time through the site. Web.
Chief Inspector Rob Dickinson, who oversees the Cheshire Police Roads and Crime Unit, said virtual police allow him to deploy traffic officers in a variety of tasks. “This model allows us to target organized crime using current intelligence and operatives assigned by an operations room with the aim of making Cheshire a truly hostile environment for criminals,” he said.
The change of emphasis was not welcomed by all sides. “A camera can record incidents, but it cannot prevent them from happening. We would have liked to see traffic cops among the 20,000 additional police officers announced by the government last year, ”said an AA spokesperson.
Silkie Carlo, director of the Big Brother Watch campaign group, added: “The ANPR network is already monitoring innocent drivers and capturing 40 million photos per day. The last thing we need to encourage is to spy on each other. “
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