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PCC Scrutiny Group 2 March 2017
On 2 March, I attended the quarterly meeting of the Merseyside Police and Crime Commissioner's Performance and Scrutiny Group, where Jane Kennedy discusses police performance with the senior police officers. Jane Kennedy has now made road safety a standing agenda item, with the responsible officer being Assistant Chief Constable Ian Critchley, although on this this occasion, both he and Jane Kennedy had had to give their apologies.

I was made very welcome at the meeting - apparently, it was the first time that a member of the public had attended, despite being open to the public for years.

My impressions were
  • it is a great step forward that Jane Kennedy has given her backing to reduce road danger
  • there was a stark difference between road safety and the other agenda items in that road safety performance is not subject to any inspection by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (or any other body), so there is much less information on how well Merseyside is doing compared to other police areas - and less scope for assumptions being challenged
  • responsibility for road safety in the region is fragmented across different agencies in different locations, and this is hampering progress.

My hopes for the future are that
  • there will be a greater realisation that road casualties are just a small part of the consequnces of roads being as dangerous as they are - fear of injury while walking and cycling is actually a greater problem because of the consequences of inactivity, obesity, loss of self-esteem, diabetes, heart disease, social isolation and lack of access to employment - once this is realised, an appropriate priority can be given
  • there will be a move from the traditional approach of apportioning blame (e.g. between the motorist and the pedestrian) to the Safe System approach as was recommended by the DfT British Road Safety Statement of 2015 [1] where nobody should be killed or seriously injured as a result of a momentary lapse of concentration or error of judgement, and any incident where this happens is seen as a failure of the system i.e. of the responsible authorities.

I feel that what is needed is a region-wide road safety plan which includes
  • an accurate assessment of the current situation - "where we are now"
  • a clear statement of the aim and objectives - "where we want to get to and when "
  • a set of measures that are likely to produce the change, based on evidence of what works - "how we're going to get there"
  • adequate resources to implement the measures - "who's paying"
  • monitoring after launch to ensure that the agreed measures are implemented and that they are having the desired effect.

We also need to raise the standards of administration in the region to eradicate poor practice and malpractice so that resources are used effectively - I still have had no response from Wirral Council Cabinet to my concerns of serious malpractice in road safety as set out in my report of December 2016 https://www.wacm.org.uk/files/ann_scr_rep_13sep2016.pdf .

Full information on the PCC scrutiny group meetings is at http://www.merseysidepcc.info/home/down-to-business/meetings-and-decisions/performance-and-scrutiny-group-meetings.aspx .

Ian Campbell, 3 March 2017

[1] DfT (2015) British Road Safety Statement

Last updated: 24 May 2018