DVSA launches campaign to tackle unacceptable rise in assaults on staff
Too many DVSA employees are physically or verbally assaulted, so the agency is taking tough action against culprits.
Last year more than 300 driving examiners, vehicle testers and roadside enforcement staff suffered physical or verbal abuse while doing their jobs, an increase of more than 50% on the previous year (198).
DVSA’s 4,600 employees play a vital role in helping to keep Britain’s roads safe. They include people who test learners to make sure they can drive safely, staff who help keep vehicles safe through MOTs and annual tests and those who take unsafe drivers and vehicles off the roads.
DVSA is launching a campaign that aims to stop assaults by getting people to report them and showing what action DVSA will take. This includes:
• referring all threat, physical assault and ‘driving away’ incidents to the police
• making abusive learner drivers take their next test elsewhere
• trialling body-worn cameras for front line staff
• referring abuse from driving instructors to the Registrar; and
• including evidence of abuse from commercial drivers and operators as part of any investigation for Traffic Commissioners.
DVSA Chief Executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “I am immensely proud of my colleagues at DVSA, all of whom work incredibly hard to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads. We do not tolerate anyone abusing, threatening or assaulting them.
“Our message is clear – whatever has happened, don’t take it out on our staff. If you do, we’ll press for the strongest possible penalties.”
Attacks on staff range from screamed profanity and threats to kill, to damaging staff cars and offices and serious physical assaults.
Driving examiners remain the number one target sometimes suffering abuse, threats or attacks from people who fail the driving test. One learner, after committing a number of serious errors and being asked to bring the vehicle to a safe stop, resorted instead to swearing at the examiner and driving wildly across a dual carriageway. Luckily, the examiner was able to use dual controls to bring the car to a safe stop. The learner is now banned from that test centre and any future test will have to be taken under supervision.
Vehicle examiners and roadside enforcement staff are also bullied. That’s what happened recently, when a driver and operator from a Shropshire scaffolding firm made a false claim against a member of DVSA staff who had caught the firm committing tachograph offences.
The Traffic Commissioner for Wales, Nick Jones, rejected the firm’s accusation and concluded that the “appalling behaviour” of the driver had been condoned by his “irresponsible” employer and resulted in a “significantly disproportionate” complaint made against an experienced traffic examiner.
Mr Jones 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