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Use of police resources


The Scottish Government is urging UK Ministers to change laws that currently require police officers to accompany inspectors every time they carry out a roadside vehicle check in Scotland.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has written to Ruth Kelly, Secretary State for Transport, asking her to allow officers from the Vehicle and Operators Services Agency (VOSA) to carry out roadside vehicle checks without the need for police support.

The move which would free up hundreds of days of police officers' time for other frontline duties has the support of Association of Chief Police Officers and the Road Haulage Association.

Mr MacAskill said:

"The need for police officers to support VOSA carrying out roadside checks is clearly a duplication of valuable public resources. This change in the law would have two direct benefits.

"Firstly it will enable the police to commit time and resource to concentrate on other core policing activities. Secondly, it would provide VOSA with new opportunities to become more effective, efficient and flexible in their roadside enforcement, due to no longer relying wholly on police for support.

"These duties are already carried out by VOSA officers alone in England. So there can be little argument for tying up valuable police time on them here. I expect the UK Government to agree to this change.

"Experienced police officers should be available to their Chief Constables for deployment in communities to deter and detect crimes rather than on these secondary duties. Police should be protecting our communities not chaperoning officials.

"This initiative is just one example of the fresh thinking the Scottish Government is bringing to increasing the capacity of Scotland's police service in our communities. An approach based on increased recruitment, improved retention, and smart redeployment of officers."

VOSA already has the power to stop moving vehicles in England and Wales by virtue of the Police Reform Act 2002 (PRA).

VOSA enforcement areas in Scotland still require police to stop vehicles for enforcement checks at the roadside, as only police have the powers to do so.

Legal advice obtained by both VOSA and this Government is clear that the only way to make the change in Scotland is through an amendment to the Road Traffic Act 1988. As this Act is Reserved, the Department for Transport would need to make the appropriate changes.

In the North of Scotland VOSA region alone, which includes Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness, some 150 police officer days are used each year to assist VOSA in stopping vehicles.