Road safety charity Brake has warned that continued severe cuts to roads policing will lead to "more drivers thinking they can get away with life-threatening illegal behaviour"

The charity looked at data from 43 forces across the UK and found that the number of traffic police went down 11.6 per cent in five years, more than six times the amount that overall police numbers went down during the same period.

Brake deputy chief executive Julie Townsend said: "It is crucial the government acts now to put a stop to these dramatic cuts in life-saving roads policing, by making this a national policing priority.

"This is crucial in safeguarding the public and preventing needless casualties that lead to terrible suffering, and it also makes economic sense as investing in roads policing helps stop crashes before they happen, meaning less families suffering and reduced costs to the taxpayer."

Road traffic policing has been in constant decline from as many as 7,525 dedicated officers in 1999 to Brake's calculation of 3,485 last year, arguably leading to the increasing annual cost of road casualties which stood at £32 billion in 2011 due to the impact on fire and other emergency services.

International evidence shows enforcement of traffic laws is highly effective in preventing devastating deaths and injuries by deterring drivers from potentially deadly behaviour such driving drunk, drugged, on a mobile phone or driving an unroadworthy vehicle.

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