he number of full-time traffic officers on the roads in England and Wales has fallen by nearly a third in five years, putting more pressure on forces trying to clampdown on motoring offences, according to a recent investigation.

The investigation, which was conducted by motoring magazine Auto Express, found that there has been a 30% reduction in the number of full-time traffic officers, from 5,327 in 2010 to 3,742 by the end of 2015.

Of the 42 police departments that were involved in the investigation, 36 reported that they now had fewer staff available to patrol the roads, despite two thirds of motoring offences being speed related which requires officer presence for enforcement. Forces in the West Midlands were the hardest hit with the number of officers decreasing from 351 in 2010 to 114 in 2015. London Police also no longer operates an independent traffic unit due to budget constraints.

These cuts come at the same time as an increase in the number of road laws that police are required to enforce, such as new lane hogging and tailgating offences and roadside drug-driving tests. After legislative changes in October last year, police forces must also prosecute those caught smoking in a vehicle carrying someone under the age of 18.

Helen Williams, a senior road accident solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Bristol office, said: “In 2014, the number of road traffic casualties increased for the first time since 1997 so it seems baffling that the government is forcing police forces to make cut backs to officer numbers.

“At Thompsons Solicitors, we regularly see the devastating effects of road traffic accidents, many of which could have been avoided entirely had one of the drivers taken greater care.

“The government needs to commit to providing more funding to police forces so that there are sufficient numbers of patrol cars visible on our roads able to catch those who drive illegally.”