Somerset people want higher speeding penalties – apparently
A national survey by the Association of Police and Crime Commissioner (APCC) has concluded that people want change. Apparently you would like to see the introduction of higher speeding penalties. However the quid pro quo, is that you want to see that money invested in enforcement and road safety.
This morning we received a press release from PCC Sue Mountstevens titled Local people want higher speeding penalties. In it she welcomed the poll saying “I would like to thank all the local people who took part in the survey. I know road safety is a real concern for communities who want to be able to enjoy their neighbourhoods while keeping their loved ones safe.”
She had certainly encouraged local people to take part. It is admirable to want to hear the public’s voice.
However our PCC has in the past used surveys like this to inform policing priorities. Which in many ways is a laudable aim. The problem is they tend to get a miniscule response. But the conclusions drawn from the surveys is having a major influence on policy.
This is a case in point. We are told that:
- 70% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that fixed penalty notices for road traffic offences should be increased. Ideally with fines of £100 being doubled.
- 88% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed that some of the money raised should be reinvested in enforcement and road safety measures
- 78% said they saw road traffic offences on a daily or weekly basis.
What we are then told is that just 66,266 people responded nationally. That’s a tiny fraction of the UK’s 66.6m population. There are no figures for responses by police force. So to conclude that this is a representative view of the population is dangerous. People who respond to surveys tend to be self selecting. It is unlikely to that this will be a statistically significant survey.
And as to people in Avon & Somerset. We simply don’t know if their views are more or less in line with those of other Police Forces around the country.
To be clear, The Leveller® is not suggesting the Police are wrong in wanting to crack down on speeding. Any more than we would object to more money being put into enforcement and road safety. These are fine ideas.
However…. We do suggest that policing by survey is dangerous. Drawing conclusions from the expressed wishes of a tiny sample of the population is unhelpful. A clear finding from a tiny sample of the population can be meaningful (it is how opinion polls are conducted – though that may be leading with the chin). But only if the sample is chosen from a cross section of society. Only if it is chosen to ensure a statistically significant outcome.
Simply chucking out a survey and seeing who responds is none of those things.