Today the BBC are running a story on Breakfast News and their news website about how many drivers were caught using mobile phones whilst driving after the penalty for doing so had been doubled to 6 points: Apparently it was almost 6,000 in four weeks. The only surprise in this statistic, to anyone who drives on, cycles on or just crosses our roads, is that it’s only 6,000!
You don’t have to be a criminologist or psychologist to work out that increasing the penalty for doing something illegal is only part (possibly even a small part) of the deterrent factor. You have to also increase the perpetrator’s perception that he or she will be caught. Drive on any of our roads here in the UK nowadays and we all know that when we do see a police car it is invariably hurrying somewhere on its blue lights and two-tone horns. Seeing a police officer ‘walking the beat’ or posted somewhere on foot to stop offending motorists is a very rare event and as for traffic cops – I really can’t remember the last time I saw one.
So, according to the BBC anyway, in would appear that the Press Association decided to serve Freedom of Information Act (FOI) notices on all 43 police forces in the UK to find out something that we could probably have worked out for ourselves.
Here’s an idea. Why don’t the media be a little more discerning and cutback on the number of FOI notices they serve on the police? In that way, given the reduced resources that constabularies are having to work with, some of the staff that are currently allocated to deal with FOI requests could be reassigned to do some police work.