12th July 2019

If we are going to get on top of the road toll, it is never going to be achieved by a blitz every now and again.

The culture of drivers needs to change, and that will not be achieved with spasmodic activity that is nothing more than a band-aid for the problem.

The profile of enforcement when the motorists are actually driving has to be applied at all times. The checking the mirror to see if a police car is behind is no longer a necessity because they will not be there and every driver knows it. Even Police cars travelling with traffic no longer pose a deterrent effect because we rarely if ever see Police cars intercepting motorists for traffic violations.

A publicised blitz will have some impact, but only if the culture is changed. A blitz is only one small part of any overall strategy to reduce the road toll. Similar to the random breath test, they are only part of the solution, not the panacea and we have seen the effect of putting,’ all the eggs in one basket’, the road toll keeps going up.

Enforcement has to be constant and supported by education and technology.

Essential to this approach is the visible “Police presence”, that reinforces it.

The excuse that has been proffered as the reason for the lack of a police presence on our highways is the need for Police to be two up, where traditionally highway cars were one up.

The safety of the Police is sighted as the objective. In the history of Highway patrolling in this state, only one Police Officer tragically lost his life at the hands of a violent perpetrator, and that member was patrolling on a motorcycle.

This excuse, for lack of a visible Police presence, reflects poorly on the Police management.

As with other jurisdictions, the solution is fairly simple.

Each Highway Shift should remain two members per shift, but instead of them both working in one car, have a car each — immediately doubling the visible Police presence and enforcement capability.

Simple supervision and operating techniques with a commonsense application would see both members working in the same patch of highway separated by no more than a few minutes and at most times in line of sight contact.

This procedure is safer than the current two up policy as it is near impossible for a perpetrator to take out both members simultaneously if there is a reasonable distance between them with the added resource of an additional Poice car.

We are not suggesting a laissez-faire approach, but a practical method to increase the enforcement and effective presence of police on the roads.

We are also concerned about the attitude of VicPol when it needs additional resources. It seems that ‘Proactive Policing’, is of such little importance or priority that their role will be least impacted, by using them on traffic.

We are confident that if a pragmatic approach was taken and all non-operational functions reviewed there would be ample numbers to staff substantial Highway/ Traffic patrols, and there would be plenty over to re-energize the undermanned stations so they can undertake traffic enforcement along with their other duties.

With the largest Police Force in Australia in actual numbers and the highest ratio of Police per capita, we fear that VicPol is looking like the Hawthorn Experiment re-occurring in reverse.

The more resources poured in the poorer the performance.

Time for a proper review.