In its Lawless Roads report of May this year, one of the problems highlighted by RoadPeace was the lack of government transparency about the use of driver training courses. The data that was available, through the NDORS website, was national and related to the courses attended. There were two major problems with this:
- Information on prosecutions (from the MoJ) and FPNs (Home Office), which are both available by police area, needed to be matched by the corresponding data on driver retraining, which is now the dominant form of sanction for law breaking motorists. This is particularly important now that PCCs are responsible for setting police priorities.
- The NDORS data was for the numbers attending each course. But some courses – particularly What’s Driving Us – were attended by drivers who had committed different offences. (With, according to the results of our recent FOI request, the proportions varying significantly between police areas.) This made it impossible to accurately assess trends in the numbers of drivers being sanctioned for some important offences, even at the national level.
We called for change. It has come.
On October 23rd, the Home Office published its annual update of Police powers and procedures England and Wales. This previously was just the source of FPN data. It has now been expanded to cover all traffic enforcement outcomes, including those sent to court and those to whom driver retraining was offered. Importantly, the data is classified by the offence that led to the enforcement, rather than by the course which the driver attended. And the data series in backdated to 2011.
We can now say, for instance, that between 2011 and 2016 in England and Wales there was a 51% reduction in enforcement actions (of all sorts) for Using a handheld mobile phone while driving. Much further analyses will follow.
This is a major step forward in transparency. There are issues which appear – to us – to need fuller explanation, e.g. the divergence between court data and the MoJ court statistics. But the data for all police forces has been put on a similar footing to that now available from the Metropolitan Police.