Now I know there are those that don't like the Police, but this is not a post to bitch about them. It's not very often I allow those I know to read anything I write, but I felt I had to share this with you all. I know most of you know about the Wirral, but I was far too cross eyed to start editing it fully on here, so bear with me
This information affects ALL of you, your families and your friends! No matter what you feel about the Police, this is bad News
I spoke with a couple of friends I've not seen for a while over the weekend and since that conversation, I've spoken to a few others in order to do this blog post. Those of you that know me, know that I have the utmost respect for our Police. I have many friends who are Police Officers all around the country, and I'm proud to say so. I often find myself worrying about them when they are single crewed, and in general. This is mainly due to the minority of members of the public who wish to do them harm, merely because of what they stand for. This makes me sad.
Recently, it was announced that there would be cuts to Policing, the numbers of police are to be cut,there's an increase in their pension contributions and a reduction in the amount of their pension. Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does!
I live on a peninsula which is about 10 miles (16.1 km) long, 7 miles (11.3 km) wide and covers an area of 60.35 square miles. According to the 2001 census, the population is approximately 312,293 (310,200 according to 2007 ONS estimation). It can be reached either via the M53 or via 2 road tunnels and 1 train tunnel. Some say that it's Merseyside, others (like myself) say that it's Cheshire. Either way, we are policed by 2 forces (am I allowed to call it a Police Force anymore? Some say not).
Now, a JSNA report in 2009 stated the following:
Road traffic accidents* (RTAs):
RTAs are a major cause of injury and premature death each year. A target has been set to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured (KSI) on roads by 40% between 1994/98 and 2010. A further target has been set to reduce the number of slight casualties by 10% over the same time period.
Wirral has made the least progress in Merseyside to reduce the number of people KSI on its roads and if current progress continues is unlikely to achieve the national target. Wirral has however exceeded its target to reduce the number of slight casualties although it is still behind national performance overall.
This summer has seen a marked spike in the number of KSI on the Wirral. Enforcement is seen as the main way to attempt to reduce these numbers. Statistics have shown that for every 500 tickets handed out, the number of KSI is reduced by 1. Attitudes are heading more towards education, but the powers that be cannot measure that - they prefer visible results and numbers. Now, the Wirral currently has its RPU/OSU/Traffic (whatever your Force call them) department based in Bromborough. This consists of 35 highly skilled traffic officers - 30 Constables and 5 Sgts. These officers cover Wirral, Liverpool north and Liverpool south BCU.
As mentioned, we can be reached by a motorway, but the M53 is no longer covered by Merseyside police. As of approx 2 yrs ago, the M53 was handed to Cheshire as part of the regional North West Motorway Group. Before that, Merseyside had two dedicated cars for the M53, as far as junction 6. This is now covered by Cheshire from as far away as Lymm (a distance of somewhere between 26.8 and 35.7 miles away, or 33-52 minutes away, depending which route you take). This has not been successful and on numerous occasions, the Wirral traffic cars have ended up on the M53 with little or no back up. The M53 has now effectively become a race track as a result, with little or no enforcement and little or no patrols seen on it.
For those who don't know, it often takes two cars in order to safely deal with any motorway incident - one to protect and establish a safe area and the other to actually deal with the incident. I know of at least two occasions in the past week or two where pedestrians were on the M53 and the nearest Cheshire car was coming from Middlewich, and the other time the only traffic car was coming from Switch Island in Liverpool. Only the quick response from the Bromborough traffic department prevented a fatality.
This has a knock on effect for other emergency services, such as Paramedics, who will often be first at scene and do not have the equipment to establish a secure cordon to prevent other vehicles coming towards them. Their priority is to preserve life, and they are jeopardised by the lack of Police support on the motorway more than ever before. The Police role is to protect the scene and gather evidence. Time delays means loss of evidence, which in turn may mean anyone who could be brought to book for causing an accident can effectively get off scott free.
Things are going to take a turn for the worse as the entire department is relocating to Smithdown Lane in Liverpool City Centre as of 3rd October, this year! There seems to have been no consultation with the local authority, or even the Police authority. There seems to be no logical or reasonable explanation, other than all senior management appear to live on the Liverpool side of the Mersey and don't wish to travel to Bromborough.
No explanation has been given. It doesn't appear to cut costs or save any money other than a few tunnel fares (which is insignificant in a budget for the size of the department). This means that 31 of the 35 traffic officers that live on the Wirral will now have to travel to Liverpool and incur the extra tunnel tolls (£3 per day or £2.60 if you use a pre paid fast tag) along with the extra fuel costs.
With the addition of a pay freeze, the removal of overtime, removal of special priority payment and the massive increase in the cost of living, not to mention the increase in pension contributions planned, this all makes for a fairly miserable experience.
Smithdown Lane is a decrepit building with little space for a further 35 lockers and 10 cars, not to mention 8 motorcycles. More importantly, traffic officers will essentially be coming from Smithdown Lane for any incident on the Wirral. High risk routes such as Telegraph Road will be a good 15-20 minute drive away at best - on a good day, in good weather with no tunnel closures/contraflows.
As we all know, accidents and collisions increase in poor weather, which makes the chance of further collisions much much higher, and also the risk of vital evidence in a likely to prove or fatal being lost, especially as specialist officers are 20+ minutes away.
Members of the public are being put at risk with this move, and that includes me, my family, my friends and even you and yours if you venture into the area! I for one don't think that this is acceptable and I will keep asking questions and making a noise about this move.
*RTC's now of course, amongst other acronyms.