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DRIVER AWARENESS COURSE - ASK DORSET POLICE FOR YOUR REFUND

The misrepresentation aspect of the update below has now been passed as a formal complaint to Dorset Police. 

LINK

You will notice that as Dorset Police sell the course, and that the benefits of it (as a major part of Dorset Police "road safety" activities) have been grossly misrepresented, it is a simple matter of mis-selling, and anyone who has bought a course place this year (or possibly longer) should now write to Dorset Police asking for a refund, as the benefits they believed to exist when they bought the course have now been shown not to exist.




August 2019 ..and september updates

James Vaughan, Chief Constable of Dorset, doesn’t know if the driver awareness course has any benefit!
 

I recently saw an "invitation" from James Vaughan for a driver awareness course. In it he wrote: “  .. your attendance at a Driver Awareness Scheme course may be beneficial …”

MAY be beneficial?! James Vaughan is taking £2.5million in Dorset by offering failure to prosecute in return for 120 quid and he doesn’t even know if there is any benefit?! And then claims he does not have enough money to provide a proper police service?! How many more millions are Dorset Police throwing down the drain without the slightest care about whether or not it achieves any benefit? Extraordinary.

If James Vaughan had any basic interest in road safety and a bit of honesty he would have written “your attendance at a DAS is not likely to reduce your chances of killing and injuring on the roads” as this is what the recent independent IPSOS / MORI study found.

What it does achieve though (across the UK) is about 2,500 lost person-years of time and productivity every year (more than enough to run an entire police force like Dorset), and compared with the police doing something which did actually achieve a small casualty reduction (perhaps 5%), perhaps 1300 road deaths and serious injuries a year.

But of course JV and PCC Martyn Underhill have form on this. They have (amongst other things):
1. Covered up false figures given to me by Dorset Police under FOI about where the course money goes
2. Covered up false claims about casualty reduction performance
3. Covered up a £million fraud against the public, a single camera installed as a casualty reduction effort where there was no casualty to reduce but raised 20,000 NIPs in just over a year
4. Did not know when I met with them that only 7% of KSI crashes have speeding as only one of usually multiple factors

I will just point out here that all the evidence, including audio recordings of meetings, are on my website www.dorsetspeed.org.uk. For example, you can hear for yourself "independent" investigator Colin Smith (head of professional standards at Hampshire police) keenly agreeing with me on point 1 and point 2 . But of course ultimately the police will protect the police, CS delayed for a year, refused to communicate, wrote there was nothing wrong, "retired" and vanished, even before Underhill allowed me to see it and raise questions!!

And now, not content with just covering up misrepresentation, Underhill and Vaughan are doing it themselves.

Here is some data from Dorset Police.    As they seem to struggle so much with numbers and would prefer to put more effort, time and cost into refusing transparency than just answering a simple question  (as usual) we don't have the 2017 figure. So much for freedom of information.

So I found the stats19 data for recent years (but not including 2018 yet) here:

https://data.gov.uk/dataset/cb7ae6f0-4be6-4935-9277-47e5ce24a11f/road-safety-data

I wrote a small program to extract the figures of interest and ran the data for 2010 to 2017 through it.

Here is what I found: 

And this is what the data looks like from Dorset Police (with the stats19 extracted figure for 2017 as theirs is only for 6 months). The 239 count for 2018 comes from here

The first 2 years match precisely which provides some confidence that the method of stats19 extraction works well although it is strange that the slight upward trend in stats19 is largely suppressed in Dorset Police's figures. For example, here are the casualties I found for 2015, there is nothing that stands out as incorrect. I have not checked every line but could Dorset Police even have been manipulating the numbers to hide increasing casualty? From what I have seen nothing would surprise me.

September update:I can now confirm that the figures from Dorset Police, that they refused to confirm under FOI are WRONG. Adding the figures from Dorset Council to those from BCP Council provides almost precisely the same numbers as I calculated from stats19 (the only points to mention are that stats19 is 4 higher in 2015 and 2 higher in 2016, and the 2018 stats19 data is not published yet). Anyone with the slightest mathematical appreciation could see that all that can be done to evaluate performance over the last 10 years of "no excuse" would be to compare the average of the first 5 years to the average of the last 5 years. And if you do that, you get NO CHANGE (365 to 366) EVEN INCLUDING THE FREAK 2018 COUNT.

Anyway, it is easy to see that 2010 to 2017 is either fundamentally flat or slightly increasing, and we have a whopping drop in 2018, from figures which we cannot independently verify yet from Dorset Police.

While it would be lovely if the drop in Dorset in 2018 is real, any responsible and independent comment on this will be highly suspicious, at the least highly cautious, and not consider it an indication of direction until it can be seen to be stable and consistent. But without even waiting for the figure to be confirmed, PCC Martyn Underhill, CC James Vaughan and Head of Roads Policing Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk have released an extraordinary statement of self congratulation about a "sustained fall"!!

Safest year ever on Dorset road   copy of page as I will ensure the original will be taken down
So what they have done is to:
1. claim what any sensible person with the slightest appreciation of mathematical data would recognise so far as a data glitch in random flat data to be a permanent consistent shift downwards in road casualty.
2. claim the entire benefit of this false drop to be due only to them! "this is an excellent result and vindication of the planning, targeted intelligence led policing and effective allocation of resources and funding that goes into roads policing every year" "... professionalism and hard work of all those officers and staff working in this complex area of policing."   Oh dear. As far as I am aware, Dorset Police were just money making in 2018 as they were in all the previous years.

And if that isn't enough, here they are doing it again!
Dorset Police launches website...
"Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “I’m very pleased there has been a sustained drop in the number of people killed or seriously injured on Dorset’s roads over the last seven years ..."

And again!
"Chair of the Dorset Road Safety Partnership, Assistant Chief Constable Julie Fielding, said: “We’re now seeing 30 per cent less people killed and seriously injured on our roads each year versus 2012 and this is a positive step."  

Mr Underhill, James Vaughan, Julie Fielding, Adrian Leisk, have a look at the data and tell us if you still think it's a "sustained drop". How have we ended up in this dismal situation with those assuming responsibility for road safety in Dorset so spectacularly incompetent, presenting their failure as success and asking for more money to do more? And how many are dying who would not be if things were even a bit better?

The magnitude of their delusion (and that's being generous to them) is easily demonstrated by the unfortunate news that in 2019 we have already reached the death count of 2018. And yet Martyn Underhill and James Vaughan (on a combined salary of about 1/4 £million) are entrusted with a £150m budget. I wouldn't trust them to buy pencils for Dorset Police.

We can make observations of better confidence looking at a larger amount of data over a longer period of time. Now of course there may be all sorts of other factors but it is strange how over the last decade, as the uk police have ramped up their money making to more than £100,000,000, have had a large proportion of drivers in front of them for "education", we have endured an outbreak of totally silly speed limits including 20MPH, 10s of £millions spent in Poole alone making the roads "safer" for vulnerable road users, and a greater proportion of safer cars, etc, the long term death and serious injury reduction we have been achieving seems to have significantly slowed.

And you don't have to dig very deep to find some motivations for these senior public individuals to misrepresent the benefits of what they do, abuse their positions to prevent transparency and the reason that they are so keen on the introduction of ridiculous speed limits:

Safewise, the "charity" hosting local "driver awareness courses" has a scattering of senior council members on its board of trustees and directors, and, guess who, Martyn Underhill! So the same individuals who are using their public positions to drive down speed limits have a personal interest, regardless of whether they are taking direct salary, expenses etc now, from the number going on courses! You couldn't make it up! Martyn Underhill is bound to want to be loyal to his "charity", how could this possibly not cloud his judgement about speed limits and what happens to "speeders"? No wonder he has turned a blind eye to so much and not learned from his and the mistakes of others. It even seems that we have a speed camera manufacturer, Siemens, contributing to this "charity".

It's almost as though the police think they are so far above the law they don't even have to bother about blatant conflict of interest.

And here is a reminder of another blatant lie from Dorset Police's Road Safety Operations Manager, Brian Austin, in a freedom of information response: Dorset has never retained "revenue" from safety cameras. And this when he knew about the money coming in through the course, from speed camera detections, this lie diverting attention from it and therefore enhancing his own job security and prospects.

Why is it that car companies, insurance companies, etc, are not allowed to lie about the benefit / performance of the products and services they sell, but those who we expect the highest standards of all, the Police, are allowed to do it over and over and over again, and when questioned about it, just sweep it all under the carpet and carry on?

Based on the above it seems that things have not improved at all in Dorset or the UK. The Driver / Speed awareness course in Dorset and nationally basically amounts to obtaining money by deception on a massive industrial scale. Of course, Dorset is by far the worst, with the highest fees and still refusing to join the national scheme – which would improve accessibility to the course which they don't care about but would mean less income for the Dorset PCC and his "charity" which they do care about.

The consequences of this corruption are far worse than appear at first sight. It is driving down the standards of the police and can only be resulting in more killed and seriously injured than if we had integrity. It is driving down confidence in policing which already needs all the help it can get. It is dragging down the standards of other public organisations, other police forces like Hampshire, the IOPC, the Information Commissioner and tribunal, even judges and the Judicial Ombudsman. All explained at www.dorsetspeed.org.uk

The reason that the course doesn’t improve road safety is very obvious, I announced it nearly a decade ago:

Making money by over-enforcing the silliest limits is not road safety work! On the subject of silly limits, have a look at the council justification for the Dorset Way reduction, a comedy of ignorance, false assumption and incompetence: They claimed an average measured speed of 62.5 MPH. Referring to the comment “which requires factors to be taken into account such as the measured mean speed, driver perception as to the characteristics of the road” they then wrote “As mentioned in 3.2 above mean speeds are to be used as the basis for setting speed limits.”! And then they set the limit 20% below the mean measured speed, completely ignoring the point about driver perception, and criminalising the normal safe respectful behaviour of the vast majority of drivers. Needless to say the police are highly supportive of these ridiculous limit reductions against the principles mentioned by the DfT which recognises that when limits are too low, compliance will suffer – this is the reality.

So when they tell you “speed limits are set for a reason”, they are right, unfortunately, that reason is now only councillors picking small numbers out of a hat and then making them smaller. Councillors with no qualifications or connection with the public or the real world, like Steve Tite, who seemed to be more concerned with "leaving a mark" than serving the public (cringe)

Poole Council then patted themselves on the back with one of the most ridiculous things I have seen – an assumption that the collision reductions seen was totally due to the speed limit reduction without considering any other factors – regression to mean, random variation, negative trend, traffic volumes / congestion, etc, etc. And incredibly, they decided that the 27% reduction seen at a control site was “not significant” – talk about cherry picking the convenient results! I’ve seen some nonsense from the police and councils but has to be some of the best. Seem familiar? Yes, just like Underhill and Vaughan, mind you, we are talking about people like Martin Baker at Poole Council who seemed to think that closing down a camera that was making a £million a year was a good way to cut costs!

No wonder they now seem to think they have to now get these ridiculous limits in through the back door

So the councils are just as bad as the police. Don't get me started on the £30million pound bridge which has become a joke. 8 months and counting for a "spare part" and now, we need another!!

It is not lack of funding that is causing our public services and infrastructure to go down the drain. It is the greed, waste, incompetence and corruption of those who have infiltrated it. It is wherever you look, for example the NHS spending £millions to silence whistleblowers .

Whatever anyone thinks of cars, speed limits, speeding and road safety, no one can possibly be comfortable that this important responsibility seems to have ended up in the hands of people like Underhill and Vaughan and totally hijacked for the purposes of making money. It adds insult to injury to those hurt on the roads.

I am pleased that I had another look at Dorset Police but not so pleased that I found the same as years ago, but it is constructive to publish these important findings. I hope that someone will fix policing (and everything else) but I am not holding my breath. Certainly, no more money or power should go to the police until incompetence, corruption, waste, and greed have been sorted first.

Ian Belchamber