DfT’s vehicle standards agency warns of 50% hike in assaults on staff
Transport agency launches new campaign after torrent of abuse, including lorry drivers trying to run enforcement cars off the road
DVSA enforcement staff in busy areas are to trial using body-worn cameras. Credit: DVSA
More than 300 driving examiners, vehicle testers and roadside enforcement staff of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency were subject to verbal and physical abuse between April 2016 and March 2017, an increase of more than 50% on the year before.
The Department for Transport executive agency - which sets road safety standards and carries out driving tests, and has around 4,600 employees - is launching a campaign against the violence, which includes damage to cars and offices, death threats and serious physical assaults.
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In some cases lorry drivers have attempted to run DVSA enforcement cars off the road, and failed driving test candidates have driven off with their examiners still in the car against their will.
In some busy areas, enforcement staff are now to trial body-worn cameras to capture evidence of abuse. This evidence will be passed on to traffic commissioners, who have the power to suspend driving and vehicle operating licences.
The DVSA campaign aims to warn people about the consequences of assaulting staff, and encourage more reporting of instances of abuse. The agency is clear that misbehaving learner drivers can be forced to use alternative test centres, required to take tests with a supervisor present, or reported to the police.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, has praised his agency colleagues, and warned the public that threats and abuse will not be tolerated.
“Our message is clear - whatever has happened, don’t take it out on our staff,” he said. “If you do, we’ll press for the strongest possible penalties.”
Nick Jones, traffic commissioner for Wales, said: “My fellow traffic commissioners and I welcome the agency’s campaign to tackle the unacceptable abuse which staff may face whilst carrying out their professional duties.”
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