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DorsetSpeed on Radio Solent - Driver awareness courses

I was asked to contribute to a program item on Radio Solent about the courses “offered” by Dorset Police. The concerns were that Dorset is almost unique in that it does not take part in the national course – so those caught in Dorset from outside of the area are put to massive cost and inconvenience (not to mention danger on the roads), resulting in Dorset Police benefitting from the highest course fee in the country, a very reasonable concern. I spoke for a few minutes then Supt. Nicky Searle spoke. Later I commented by phone.

Here are the extracts:

Intro, Ian Belchamber, from Supt. Nicky Searle. course1.mp3

It was a weak and evasive contribution from Supt. Nicky Searle. Notice how the crucial points were completely dodged:

1.       First question about obstruction of financial integrity. Dodged completely. Instead gave the poor excuse that Dorset is not national because it was one of the first – that’s not a reason, one for the first to start courses, why not one of the first to increase accessibility by going national?

2.       She kept saying there is not a national scheme – and also kept saying that they were committed to it!

3.       She was then questioned about the transparency of finances AGAIN, and dodged it this time by answering an entirely different question – saying that the course income doesn’t meet a quarter of the cost of education and policing. Perhaps the reason it doesn’t meet a quarter of the cost is that Dorset Police are somehow squandering HALF A MILLION POUNDS purely on staffing to deliver a simple course to 40 people!!! And squandering 3 TIMES THE GOING RATE on course premises!!! This appears to be waste on a massive scale - or were the costs misrepresented to try to hide the profitability? It HAS to be one or the other. Does this problem effect other areas of Dorset Police? This is exactly why Dorset Police need to have control over these costs and be able to demonstrate that they are reasonable. This is why they need to EXPLAIN these absurd and ridiculous costs (and others) and why refusal to detail them for 3 years can only be interpreted in the worst possible way. In any case, most of us are under the impression that we already pay an adequate amount for policing. This seems like an open admission that this income is not incidental to enfacement activities, it has become crucially entwined with them and the police are now dependent on that income and therefore must ensure that it continues. Another piece of the puzzle falls into place.

4.       Course more expensive because they offer it to a wider spread of offences – again, not a good excuse, the cost is down to the staff and other fixed expenses, not how many words are spoken.

5.       She was then questioned about the course cost – refused to detail what it actually was but justified it on the cost of the fine. No, it’s £10 more, and anyway, we’re told it’s education instead of punishment, looks more like both. In reality this looks more like it’s been pushed to the limit of what they can get away with.

6.       Although describing how concerned they were about casualty reduction, she failed to mention that while "education" has been massively ramped up during "no excuse" in Dorset in the last 4 years, road deaths have increased in every one of the last 3 and the long term KSI downward trend has halted completely - an abysmal result just as I predicted when it became clear that “no excuse” scheme was aimed at the majority of safe drivers to make money, rather than the dangerous drivers who cause accidents.

Ian Belchamber on the phone later. course2.mp3

Worth a listen, was able to get some good points over.