Cast your mind back to when the Conservatives were telling us all that there were more effective road safety tools than speed cameras. How these devices were "cash cows" that trapped honest drivers and damaged the credibility of law enforcement. They told us that it would be a better idea to go after the really dangerous drivers, who tailgated, who took drugs, who used mobile phones and didn't look where they were going. There were, Theresa Villiers assured us, "other better ways to keep our roads safe: like education, like vehicle activated signs, like traffic police".
What they didn't tell us was that you need lots of real, live police officers (or f***ing plebs if you prefer) if you want a surgical approach to traffic law enforcement, and that is both extremely expensive and completely impossible if you're cutting police numbers.
In Devon and Cormwall, road deaths have risen from 42 in 2011, to a total so far in 2012 of 50, with 2 winter months and the Christmas drink-driving season yet to come. How is this possible, with the Government's new "better ways to keep our roads safe"?
Well apparently, the Devon and Cornwall police traffic department no longer has its own set of officers. Instead, there is a single, integrated 'response' team, and guess what, their first priority is dealing with urgent 999 calls, rather than hanging around the roadside waiting to catch errant motorists.
Sergeant Nigel Rabbitts, chairman of the Police Federation in Devon and Cornwall, said "there is very little enforcement going on...roads policing is a secondary tasking and they just don't have the time to do it." As for a causal link between lack of traffic policing and increasing fatalities, Rabbitts said, "I do think there's a correlation between the two...It is too much of a coincidence and that is what our members are telling us".
And of course, now the Government aren't funding or promoting automated law enforcement (speed/red light cameras), people are dying. Aside from the human tragedy, deaths are very, very expensive, what with the lost earning power of the deceased, lost taxes, benefits paid to dependents, the police and justice costs of clearing up the collision scene, investigating the incident, inquests and prosecutions. The economic cost of each death runs into millions. Which rather leads to the conclusion that saving money by cutting traffic law enforcement is costing us a fortune.