Page last updated at 05:39 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 06:39 UK

Road deaths toll 'unacceptable'

Police

There has been a call for tougher policing on Northern Ireland's roads to bring down the "unacceptably high" death toll.

A report found arrangements for investigating accidents and the quality of evidence produced for prosecution by the PSNI was weaker than in England.

The report was carried out by the Criminal Justice Inspection.

It said it was unacceptable children were three times more likely to die on NI roads than in the rest of the UK.

The report urged the creation of a dedicated crash and collision investigation unit and that a single assistant chief constable should be made responsible for policing the roads.

"More robust enforcement action can make a difference in tackling speeding and impaired driving in particular," it said.

"The fear of being caught and prosecuted needs to be elevated, especially among those high risk groups."

Deputy Chief Inspector Brendan McGuigan said death and serious injury on the roads was a major problem.

"Between 1969 and 2001, 7,291 people died on the roads compared with 3,331 who lost their lives during the same period as a result of the Troubles."

We've had situations where there have been fatal accidents and it's taken over eight hours to complete the investigation and to open the roads
Ian Paisley Jnr

Ken Williams, Inspector with HM Inspector of Constabulary, said the standard of investigation and quality of evidence being presented to the PPS for criminal prosecutions and to the Coroner, was poorer than that found in England and Wales.

However, he added: "The PSNI has already shown its commitment to improving current arrangements, by taking forward the Inspectorates' recommendation to introduce a dedicated crash and collision investigation unit as part of a detailed action plan prepared in response to this report."

Policing Board member Ian Paisley Jnr welcomed the report's findings.

"We've had situations where evidence has been lost. We've had situations where there have been fatal accidents and it's taken over eight hours to complete the investigation and to open the roads," he said.

"That sort of thing is not acceptable, and shows that there needs to be a new management style brought in to properly manage road traffic accidents."


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