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Name and shame

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This is a formal complaint against Dorset Police, in particular:

Assistant Chief Constable Julie Fielding
Chief Constable James Vaughan
Chief Inspector Adrian Leisk, head of Alliance Roads Policing
Martyn Underhill, Police and Crime Commissioner

Misrepresentation of Road Safety results


Dorset Police claims that road safety is a serious priority . It is extremely active in detecting large numbers of drivers exceeding the speed limit by small amounts and promoting its Driver Awareness course to them for a fee of £120 directly to the PCC, instead of the normal penalty, points and fine. Last year this payment totalled £2.5million, more than 20,000 drivers taking the course. The concern, as always, is whether this is about money making or about public safety. It is crucial then that objectives are honest and any results are accurate. A good result is likely to result in the current approach continuing / expanding, a bad result is likely to raise questions about whether there may be a more effective approach, or if the road safety structure or personnel should be different, etc.

The 4 above have publicly stated that in the years of "no excuse", in particular, between 2012 and 2018, Dorset has achieved a sustained reduction of 30%. And they have also stated that this is entirely due to the actions of Dorset Road Safe, of which Dorset Police is obviously the leading part.

Safest year ever on Dorset road  
Dorset Police launches website...
New campaign ...
Their self congratulatory announcements are totally false, and I believe, deliberately false. It is not possible that senior people (Underhill and Vaughan on a combined salary of about £1/4 million and responsible for a £150m budget) could make so many "mistakes":

1.  They have the wrong data. In fact, contrary to their figures, every single year apart from 2018 has been higher than in the first 2 years of "no excuse" 2010 / 2011. 

But here is the data from Dorset and BCP councils. I have been able to independently verify this by processing stats 19 data from the DfT. 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:


It seems almost as though there is an artificial cap on the numbers at the 2010 level to try to hide casualty increase. How is it possible that Dorset Police could have made a mistake with this simple number year after year?

2. They have failed to account for volatility, and seem to have deliberately picked an early year with the higher number, and a late year with the lowest. Even if they had picked a year earlier for each (2011 & 2017) they would have seen an increase from 329 to 356.

3. They have failed to realise that as welcome as the lower figure for 2018 is, it is just a freak result of extreme volatility. This is sadly confirmed by the unfortunate news that we reached the death count of 2018 in just the first 6 months of 2019

4. They have asserted that the "reduction" is the result of what they did and nothing else, when anyone knows that there are a multitude of factors that influence road casualty figures.

5. Martyn Underhill and James Vaughan cannot claim ignorance on this as they have already covered up misrepresentation of safety benefit of others.  Hear for yourself the briefly "independent" investigator Colin Smith keenly agreeing with me about this. 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 Martyn Underhill allowed me to see it and raise questions.

6. Once they reached their ridiculous conclusion, they failed to give it a simple sanity check. Could what they are doing possibly have resulted in reducing KSIs by a third? Of course not. With the whole operation set up to send the most marginal "speeders" at the silliest speed limits onto the course found by the recent independent IPSOS / MORI study to be ineffective at reducing road casualty when only 7% of KSI accidents have speeding as one of usually several factors, absolutely not. I recognised this and announced this nearly a decade ago.

7. Astonishingly, they failed to realise that the only thing to do with this volatile data to get an indication of direction in the "no excuse" years, is to (using correct data of course) compare the average of the first 5 years with the average of the last 5. And doing this, even including the freak 2018 result, will give you 365 to 366, i.e. absolutely no reduction whatsoever. And given that this decade follows a long period of negative trend in road casualty, has seen a larger proportion of safer cars, 10s of £millions spent making roads safer even just in Poole, widespread absurd speed limit reductions and vast numbers of drivers "educated" by the police, we can start to see how poor the results really are in recent years. 

The consequences of misrepresenting this failure as a success are shocking. Those involved in the misrepresentation gain personally from it, through credibility, satisfaction, job security and career progression which is undeserved. The failure is more likely to continue, and that means more killed and seriously injured than if there was some honesty, competence and effective road safety work.

And incredibly, 2 of those mentioned, Martyn Underhill and Julie Fielding, are on the board of trustees and directors of Safewise, a "charity" that seems to depend heavily on course money. This is a blatant conflict of interest as it must make them unwilling to replace the course with something effective at reducing casualty (as previously demonstrated by Martyn Underhill) as this would harm their "charity".

There is also a "mis-selling" aspect to this. Those deciding to buy the driver course from the PCC may look for the benefits, and be persuaded to go ahead with such positive outcomes of Dorset's road safety policing. 

In short, those misrepresenting are gaining from it and those who use the roads, who they are meant to be protecting, are more likely to be killed and seriously injured from it.

It is an abuse of position which results in personal gain and higher road casualty counts than competent, honest and effective road safety policing.


Ian Belchamber