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Government accused on car phone use

Gloucestershire Chief Constable Suzette Davenport has accused the Government of failing to get tough on drivers who use mobile phones at the wheel because it would not be a vote winner.

Ms Davenport, who is the lead for roads policing for the Association of Chief Police Officers, told the BBC Radio 5 live breakfast show: "My view is that if someone is caught twice using a mobile phone within a period of time we should be considering things like disqualifications for short periods of time.

"I believe if we don't do something fundamentally different we are going to have lost this."

With the May general election looming, Ms Davenport claimed the Government does not want to bring in tougher laws. She said: "I don't think it would be popular with lots of people.

"There are lots of things I talk about with Government, lots of different interest groups. They listen to those people and an election is not too far away, so I am sure they will not want to pick up and run with anything they feel is not likely to be helpful to them in the next election."

Using mobile phones at the wheel creates a "significant risk", she added.

Roads minster Robert Goodwill MP denied Ms Davenport's claim and said the Government is considering increasing the penalty for using a phone while driving from three penalty points to six.

He told the the show: "I've certainly not had representations from colleagues saying, 'Don't do this, because of the election'.

"I may have had colleagues saying, 'Don't do this, because we need to think about the actual numbers of people we catch'. Because, as with any offence, the penalty is part of the story but getting caught is the other part of the story.

"And I think it's important that police and crime commissioners and chief constables look at the resources they put into this, as opposed to other, more easy to detect crimes like speeding."


From Belfast Telegraph