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Body-worn cameras will be trialled by DVSA.

What is the matter with everyone? Have we all suddenly decided we’re entitled to treat other people like dirt?

Are we copying our government’s behaviour – for example, to the unemployed and disabled?

Or is there another, underlying reason?

The latest organisation revealed to have been hit by the abuse epidemic is the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, which employs driving examiners, vehicle testers and roadside enforcement staff.

Between April 2016 and March this year, more than 300 staff suffered physical or verbal abuse while doing their jobs – an increase of more than 50 per cent on the previous year.

According to the organisation, attacks on staff have included:

• verbal abuse and death threats;
• damaging staff cars and offices;
• serious physical assaults;
• lorry drivers trying to run DVSA enforcement cars off the road; and
• failed driving test candidates driving off with their examiner still in the car, against their will.

The DVSA is launching a campaign to stop the abuse, which it describes as “completely unacceptable”.

At driving test centres, learner drivers who swear at or verbally abuse staff will be forced to:

•use a different test centre the next time they take a test; and
•take future tests with an extra supervisor present.

Anyone who threatens or assaults examiners, drives off with an examiner still in the car, or damages DVSA property will:

•be reported to the police; and
•face the strongest possible penalties.

Although it is extremely rare, driving instructors sometimes try to influence the results of a driving test by harassing or threatening examiners. They face being:

•banned from specific driving test centres;
•removed from the approved driving instructor register.

At the roadside, at operator sites or authorised testing centres, DVSA will:

•record any abuse from commercial drivers and vehicle operators as evidence for any investigation by the traffic commissioners – they have the power to suspend or take away driving licences and operator licences; and
•report serious incidents to the police.

In some busy sites, enforcement staff are starting to trial body-worn cameras to capture evidence of abuse.

 

There’s no excuse for abuse against people who are simply trying to make our roads safer.

But is this campaign a good idea? Or does it go too far?

Your opinions are invited.


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