The AA has emphasised the importance of traffic officers in tackling motor offences, stating that they cannot be replaced by technology such as dash cams and speed cameras.
In a letter to the Police Federation, AA president Edmund King said, “traditional roads policing will still be paramount”.
The letter follows the government’s decision to increase funding for police to use video evidence as part of a road safety initiative.
The AA have welcomed the investment from the government but warn that the move should not be “an excuse to cut police officer numbers”.
With technological advances, the quantity of footage available to police is set to grow over the coming year. An AA survey of over 21,000 motorists found that 20% of motorists already own a dash cam, and over half considering buying one.
The police’s Operation Snap scheme allows motorists to submit dash cam footage to help prosecute dangerous drivers.
Drivers are, however, increasingly interested in the use of dash cams for insurance purposes. The AA’s survey found that 60% of dash cam owners purchased their device as a means of establishing fault in the case of a road incident, while 25% bought them to protect themselves against ‘crash-for-cash’ fraudsters. Drivers also use dash cams in the hope to reduce insurance premiums or to record thieves or collisions while their vehicles is parked.
2% of those surveyed said they bought a dash cam for ‘vigilante purposes’, to film poor drivers and post footage online. 1% admitted they simply owned the devices because they liked gadgets.
Even with the growing amount of footage available, the AA president stresses that this approach to policing should not replace more traditional methods.
Edmund King said, “Previous Home Office research showed that the most serious motoring offenders were far more likely to be involved in mainstream crime. Hence, traffic police have a crucial role in making the roads safer and solving broader crimes. Peter Sutcliffe, dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper, was caught by an officer carrying out traffic duties.
“Camera technology in the form of speed cameras or indeed dash cams can help reduce or clear up crimes but not at the expense of traffic cops. Data is king in the event of a collision and dash cam footage provides proper, reliable evidence that can establish fault. Based on the Operation Snap evidence it does lead to prosecution of dangerous drivers.
“However dashcams and speed cameras don’t deter uninsured drivers or mainstream criminals, so there is still a vital role for cops in cars using automatic number plate recognition.”