Total motoring offences by police service

Key points

  • New analysis from AVZ makes it possible to see total offences sanctioned by police services (2011-2020)
  • Data on court prosecutions and out of court sanctions has been combined and published by individual police service for the first time
  • This shows how enforcement of motoring offences has changed within each police service. Between 2011-2019, 20 police services reported an increase in total motoring offences sanctioned and prosecuted, with a high of 228% increase in Bedfordshire. Wiltshire was at the other extreme, with a drop of 67%
  • Between 2019-2020, most police services saw a fall in motoring offences sanctioned, although seven reported an increase, with Devon and Cornwall reporting a 13% increase.

Why needed?

What the police do to make our roads safe is important. It is also difficult to identify.

Data on motoring offences is published once a year by two sources –Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Home Office (HO) but at different times and on different offences.

MoJ data on court prosecutions comes out each May for the previous year but you have to wait until October (or later) for data from the HO on those offences which can be sanctioned out of court. These account for the majority of offences and are 10-21 months out of date by the time they are published.

Both sources need to be considered, as shown below.

Careless driving

More careless driving offences are prosecuted at court  than referred to court in the Home Office stats.  In 2021, the HO reported less than 7k careless driving offences referred for court prosecution, whilst the MoJ reported almost 10k careless driving prosecutions).  This is because

  1. the HO stats do not include arrests and
  2. court prosecutions for careless driving will include those which start out as arrests for more serious offences (e.g. dangerous driving) but are downgraded to careless driving.

Speed limit offences

It is the opposite for speeding. Fewer speed limit offences make it to court.

in 2021, the HO reported over 255k speed limit offences for court prosecution but the MoJ reported only 168k court prosecutions. So only two-thirds of those referred for court prosecution actually made it to court. It is unclear if these were dropped,  prosecuted as another offence or ended up being sanctioned out of court.

AVZ analysis

It should not be so hard. AVZ can’t make the data come out faster but we can help with providing a complete picture. So we have produced totals that avoid double-counting. This means excluding those offences reported by the Home Office which were referred for court prosecution and including those actually prosecuted, as reported by the MoJ.  

AVZ has presented the data from both the Home Office and the MoJ to show how the totals were produced. See here for the  excel files by police region. Each file contains a worksheet for the individual police services as well as the data for England and Wales for comparison.. There are five tables showing how the totals were produced.

Sources are shown with each table and each worksheet has  a background note.  This includes the caveats from the Home Office that explains which police services say they do not provide compete data (Shame on Derbyshire, Gwent, North Wales, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, and South Wales or which provide data jointly (e.g.Norfolk and Suffolk)—this is also poor on transparency.

AVZ is lobbying for more timely and detailed data. We want enforcement data published at the local level by offence, speed limit and road name. This is starting to happen.  

Transparency and accountability featured as the second key call of our 2021 PCC Commit to Act on Road Danger Police and Crime Manifesto. This was developed with  20s Plenty for Us and RoadPeace and supported by British Cycling, Cycling UK, Living Streets,

Contact for more information on motoring offences.

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