Driving campaigners have accused police forces of sending increased numbers of motorists on road safety courses as opposed to giving them points in a concerted effort to increase revenue. The accusation came follows the publication of figures showing the number of drivers being sent on driver awareness courses has tripled in five years.
The courses are run by outside road safety partnerships in a relationship between the police, local councils and road safety charities. There are different courses for different offences such as speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, or using a mobile phone There are set criteria, for example, for the speed awareness course the alleged speed must be within the Speed Awareness threshold and you must not have attended a course for a previous speeding offence dated within the last 3 years Drivers typically pay between £80 and £195 for a half day attendance and are charged a levy of up to £35, most of which is handed back to the police.
Hugh Blandon, founder of Alliance of British Divers, told The Times:
‘These courses can be a very sensible option as opposed to someone getting points and losing their licence.
‘The problem is that branches of the police profit financially from the fact that people take them. There’s a clear incentive here to get people on the courses.’
Driver awareness courses were first introduced in 2006 with the aim being to re-educate people to become safer drivers and hopefully avoid committing motoring offences in the future.
Figures show that in 2010, almost 470,000 people took up the offer of courses, increasing to nearly 800,000 in 2011, 970,000 in 2012, and 1.07million in 2013. In 2014 a record 1.19million people took up the offer of such a course. At the sane time statistics from the Ministry of Justice show offences dealt with by Magistrates Courts decreased from 1million in 2010 to 790,000 in 2013.
The National Police Chief’s Council denied that profits were being made from the courses, saying the fees were designed to cover the associated administrative costs. The organisation said it could not comment as to whether the courses were reducing numbers of offences being dealt with by the courts as this is decided by each individual police force.
Written by Ruth Peters of Olliers Solicitors