Express & Star

24/7 road policing and operation relaunched in response to road deaths

A road policing unit will begin operating 24 hours a day from the end of this month as part of the ongoing battle to keep Staffordshire’s highways safe from those who put others at risk.


Staffordshire Police have also relaunched an operation in response to a rise in road deaths during 2023.

Chief Constable Chris Noble said in his report to the latest police performance meeting that 44 people had lost their lives as a result of incidents on the area’s roads last year – six more than in 2022. He described each death as a tragedy which left behind grieving families and friends.

He said: “One of my biggest concerns is the number of fatalities on our roads – 44 deaths, 44 families pulled apart. That will live with them for the rest of their lives, incredibly traumatic incidents.

“They range from what very sadly what appears to be ill-health incidents to completely avoidable tragic circumstances. It is completely unacceptable levels of death and serious injury on our roads.

“There’s no single reason, or location, behind the rise in deaths we have seen. But in response, we relaunched Operation Lightning, investing more staff into a 24/7 roads policing unit to tackle those who put other road users at risk, and will continue to educate the wider driving community about the importance of road safety.”

Chief Superintendent for ops and contact Paul Talbot gave further details at the meeting about Operation Lightning, which was relaunched in December, and the roads policing unit. He said: “We’re going 24/7 on 26th February and we have five extra staff who are going to be joining us.

“We are fully supported now through Jets, which is our vehicle maintenance team. We’re fully on board and Op Lightning is here to stay – it’s a proactive approach in regards to making sure Staffordshire is safe.

“There are no specific factors or causes that are outliers from any other force, other than that we know that 29% (12 fatal collisions which involved) vulnerable road users, which is motorcycles, and then we have 26% (11 fatal collisions which involved) pedestrians. We’re looking at a different strategy around it, focusing our units and resources in a more proactive way.

“Some of that can be education – we do biker breakfasts and bike safety initiatives in order to meet those vulnerable road users and engage. We’re also linking with our partners, such as SSRP (Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership) and local authorities, so we look at street environment or causations where collisions take place to see what we can do as a whole.

“It’s also about enforcement as you would expect police to do. From December and the launch of Operation Lightning we saw 58 arrests for drink driving or drug offences, 392 breath and drug swipes conducted in December alone, 38 stolen vehicles recovered and 272 traffic offences reported.

“It’s really about being proactive, visible, engaging with the communities and our partners in order to make the roads safer. A lot around road safety is about visibility, raising awareness, education and speaking to the public.”

Deputy Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Helen Fisher said: “I’m highly delighted this work is going on. I really hope you carry on being proactive in all of these areas.

“There are far too many uninsured drivers on our roads and I am happy that in December 76 of these selfish drivers had their vehicles taken off them – I do hope they were inconvenienced by that.”

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