CONSERVATIVE representatives in south Cumbria have said that a 'more joined-up approach' should be taken to tackle dangerous driving along problem routes like the A590.

The comments comes as a new report carried out by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that a de-prioritisation and defunding of roads police had led to the growing number of deaths caused by road collisions in the UK.

The figure has risen steadily since 2013, after years of gradual decline prior to that.

Between 2013 and 2019, spending on roads policing fell 34% in real terms, compared with about 6.1% across all police functions.

Commenting on the report's findings, Barrow MP Simon Fell argued that too much responsibility rests with the police currently, and that curbing dangerous driving in south Cumbria would require a co-ordinated response involving local authorities besides other bodies.

He said: "What are local authorities doing to identify 'danger spots' - bottlenecks, areas in need of maintenance work, stretches of road with dangerous conditions?

"We asked the Home Secretary about this earlier in the week, and the Home Office are now looking at what 'partnership working' could look like in the future.

"There's a role for employers to ensure driver and resident safety - we see in places like Broughton and Askam workers and delivery people leaving their cars, which causes problems for residents with parking.

"But I think this is far more about making sure it's not just down to the police to tackle this, as good a job as they're doing. So the response has to be a mixture of carrot and stick."

Cllr Matt Brereton echoed Mr Fell's comments, saying: "There has undeniably been an erosion of traffic resources over many years - we need to reverse that.

"I welcome extra resources and the government's commitment to providing them.

"But I also think roads policing methods need to be more up-to-date and fit for purpose - we need more modern, covert policing, as well as better administration and diversion routes when there's been an RTC. Simply increasing numbers is not necessarily going to change things.

"Traditional methods won't work in Cumbria. We have a number of major A roads, on which we see everything from county lines drivers to just careless drivers.

"Ideally, we want more unmarked vehicles moving among and observing drivers. But we also need more bases in this part of the county.

"Usually officers are coming from Penrith, and I often wonder if those guys were based more out of Kendal, Barrow and Ulverston, then we might be tackling the specific problems along roads in this area more effectively."

Cumbria Police Inspector Steve Minnikin told The Gazette: "Road safety is a priority and always has been for the constabulary.

"We are currently working on a number of projects that work with information provided by the local community to help tackle 'hotspot' areas.

"One of those is Operation Dreadnought, which helps us identify drivers we believe could be a risk to the public. Another is Operation Falcon, where instead we look at the risk factor of areas - using comments from social media, as well as data on the history of those areas."