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Police chief pledges more traffic officers

SCOTLAND'S new chief constable has pledged to put more traffic officers on the country's roads, adding that roadside cameras are no substitute for patrol cars.

logo: Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, with a rebranded patrol car. Picture: Gordon Terris
logo: Stephen House, chief constable of Police Scotland, with a rebranded patrol car. Picture: Gordon Terris

Stephen House, head of Police Scotland, claimed more officers on the roads would help save lives as he revealed there were 176 road traffic deaths in 2012, "much higher" than deaths from homicide.

Announcing plans for an elite national road traffic unit, the police chief also unveiled the force's new logo on the side of a motorway patrol vehicle.

The badge, which was designed in-house at no extra cost to the new force, will unite Scotland's eight existing forces on April 1.

Mr House said: "Traffic officers don't want to be behind desks. They want to be out on the roads and visible – and our feedback shows the public prefer that.

"Safety cameras have their place but all the research tells us there is nothing more effective than having vehicles and officers on the roadside, not least because they can respond immediately.

"A camera can catch you speeding but it can't stop you or check if a vehicle is safe, insured and has a valid MoT or whether a child is in an appropriate safety seat. It can simply punish excess speeding and has no levels of discretion."

Mr House revealed that a new Trunk Roads Patrol Group tasked with providing high- profile traffic enforcement on major national routes, including motorways, will be put in place with the introduction of the single force.

It will be backed up by local Divisional Roads Policing Units, which will focus on policing local accident hotspots, reducing road casualties and dealing with local road safety concerns.

The number of road traffic officers will remain the same, at 591, but it is hoped the number of vehicles can be reduced.

Mr House said: "We should be able to reduce the number of vehicles in the fleet but the number of officers will stay the same.

"Now there is one police authority, there is one budget. Cops do now cross the borders if they need to but essentially they are currently being paid by eight different authorities so it wasn't quite as easy."

One-third of officers will be assigned to trunk roads – statistics show 30% of road deaths occur on major routes – with the remainder working at a local level.

Armed police cars will also patrol every area of Scotland, ready to respond instantly to firearms incidents.

Mr House pledged to increase the size of Scotland's fleet of armed response vehicles to ensure all communities are protected because "no-one can predict where incidents will pop up".

Work to remove current logos across the existing forces is already under way and a number of vehicles will be rebranded as part of routine maintenance in a move expected to cost less than £100,000.

Future roll-out of the badge across Police Scotland will be subject to approval by the Scottish Police Authority, the force's new watchdog.

Uniforms for the new force will simply be a standardised version of existing uniforms with no new design.

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