Police inaction, PCC role

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Home Office

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

The request was partially successful.

Dear Home Office,

My layman’s understanding is:
• The police have responsibility for enforcing legislation in a fair and consistent manner.
• The police do not have the authority to choose which laws they do and do not enforce, notwithstanding the need to operate against generally agreed priorities.
• Police Complaints Commissioners have the primary responsibility for holding the police accountable for any failure to discharge their lawful duty; in fact this is precisely why they were introduced.
On this basis I have raised a complaint with my local PCC who has told me that he has no remit to become involved with police “operation” matters, but cannot explain how he expects to discharge his prime responsibility without so doing as it seems to me he is therefore completely impotent. He has further explained that his remit is also governed by law for which the Home Office is responsible – hence this request for information that will resolve this ridiculous stalemate. The context is as follows.
I live on a road that has a longstanding 30 mph speed limit and has over the years undergone two attempts at so-called traffic calming. The first clearly failed (or a 2nd attempt would not have been necessary) and sadly the second has too, the reasons for which are clear but not relevant here. I contacted the police to ask if they would add us to their schedule of mobile speed-trap locations so at least there would be some deterrent for the significant number of offending drivers. The answer was a great surprise – a categorical, unqualified “no”. Their argument is simply that in their opinion speeding post-calming occurs to such an insignificant degree that policing is no longer necessary. Have put to them that:
• Calming at best discourages speeding – it does not prevent it. This they accept. The analogy I have drawn is with domestic intruder alarm systems, which likewise are no more than a deterrent i.e. would they refuse to respond to a burglary where an alarm is installed on the basis that in theory it should not have occurred? They will not comment.
• The local Neighbourhood Watch team collected a large amount of representative post-calming speed data that shows there has been no reduction in speeding. They have chosen to ignore this despite some of their officers being involved at the time.
• The equivalent data produced by the County Council is not representative (taken over just one day) and has been “massaged”, both of which are provable. They have chosen to ignore this too.
• Police policy is totally at odds with the Government’s own road safety campaign. Again they will not comment.
In preference they are relying upon general claims about the benefits of such traffic schemes, the evidence for which they cannot even produce which makes it no more than hearsay. They also will not accept that whatever the general stats say, they may or may not be relevant to the stretch or road concerned here.
There are other examples where one can see that the police have downgraded speeding as an offense despite it being the law most commonly broken. This is despite the Government’s own public service bulletins that make it crystal clear why 30 mph means 30 mph.
In view of this I contacted the PCC who then told me there is nothing they can do as the problem is not within their remit. What I am seeking is some definitive information that shows they are correct (or otherwise) in their stance, as if they are they are clearly not fit for purpose.

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

FOI Requests, Home Office

J Newman,

Thank you for contacting the Home Office with your request.

This has been assigned to a caseworker (case ref 45470). We will aim to send you a full response by 17/10/2017 which is twenty working days from the date we received your request.

If you have any questions then please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you,

P. Zebedee
FOI Requests
Home Office

FOI Responses, Home Office

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