West Midlands crime chief: 'Give fines from people caught on mobiles behind the wheel to road safety projects'

Increased fines from motorists using mobile phones behind the wheel should be given to police forces, the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner has said.

David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner
David Jamieson, the West Midlands police and crime commissioner

David Jamieson, who as minister for road safety a decade ago first introduced fines for the offence, says the money raised should be ploughed back into road safety projects.

He has written to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling over the issues after fines for motorists using mobile phones while driving were doubled to £200.

He warned that the force's attempts to enforce the law will be hindered by lack of funds and resources.

He wrote: "I would ask that you work with your colleagues at the Home Office and Treasury to recognise that further cuts to our police force will cripple its capacity to enforce the Department for Transport's commendable new measures.

Furthermore, enforcement would be aided by the redirection of penalty fine proceeds to local police forces for the purpose of enforcement of road safety measures, in the same way that fines yielded from speed camera detections were between 2001 and 2010. These funds could be ring-fenced for road safety, so that offenders pay for enforcement instead of tax payers."

Under the stricter measures, newly qualified drivers, who have a ceiling of six points for their first two years on the road, could immediately lose their licence if they are caught.

The tougher sanctions are being brought in amid mounting concern about a lack of prosecutions and convictions and a failure of the public to take the offence of using a mobile phone while driving seriously.

Department for Transport says there is a disproportionate number of those caught using their phones behind the wheel were young, or new drivers, or both.

The increase in sanctions comes as Ministry of Justice data for the past 10 years show the number of prosecutions have halved since 2010, with 17,586 motorists charged in 2015 compared with 35,255 in 2010. The number of convictions has also halved as have fines imposed by the courts.

The department said that of 88 deaths caused by distractions in 2012, 17 were because of mobile use – a higher death rate than other in-car causes. In 2014 this had risen to 21 fatal accidents and 22 in 2015.

Nobody was jailed as a result of any of those accidents, with records showing one suspended sentence in 2015.

Not only will those caught get a £200 on-the-spot fine, but if they are caught twice and accrue 12 points they will automatically appear in court and face a fine of £1,000 and a driving ban of at least six months.

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