Not a priority
|Road deaths outnumber homicides by 3:1.
From the delivery of death messages through to giving evidence at court, road deaths dominate police work with bereaved families, at least in terms of frequency.
But collision investigation is not a priority for the police. Even amongst roads policing plans (see NPCC. TISPOL), collision investigation is regularly marginalised, if not overlooked completely.
A road death is to be treated as an unlawful killing, until the contrary is proven.
Stated by ACPO in its first Road Death Investigation Manual (RDIM), this principle represented a major change of approach.
The College of Policing Investigating Road Deaths guidance has kept this principle:
The RP SIO must begin a road death investigation by adopting the mindset of unlawful killing, until the contrary is proved substantially.
It has also maintained the also, as did ACPO's RDIM, holds that:
Collisions that involve serious, life changing injuries should be responded to, investigated and reported in the same way as road deaths.
But in reality, a road death cannot be treated as a homicide until it is similarly resourced. Evidence collection, be it witness statements, CCTV or speed calculations, is restricted by budgets. Investment in 360 degree scanners was to reopen roads faster, not to ensure justice was achieved.
Cost of police investigation
Each year, DfT estimates the cost of crashes to the country, including the cost of police resources. In 2012, police costs were revised and dramatically increased after a 2011 DfT research project found much higher estimates than previously used (£1,848 for fatal collision and £245 for serious injury collision).
Nor is it a priority for the Health and Safety Executive
The most common form of work related sudden death is in road collisions. Construction vehicles are disproportionately involved in the deaths of cyclists and pedestrians. Nevertheless, the HSE has limited its involvement in addressing road deaths.
London has seen some recent changes in this – due to TfL and its work with FORS and CLOCS.
Nor for health
Road deaths are the leading cause of death to older children and young adults. But they are not a priority for the health sector. This should change as public health awakens to the toll road danger has on suppressing active travel.
Nor for Department of Transport
Road crash reporting is a priority for the DfT, but not collision investigation. There is no national road collision investigation centre, as there is with rail and air collisions, although the DfT has resumed funding collision investigation research.
Even worse for injury investigation
And whilst road death investigation has improved in the past decade, this is not the same for injury investigation. The response to injury collisions depends on local police. After the initial scene attendance, follow-up investigation is desk-based. Both often involve minimal effort.