Press release

Government awards police forces £2.7 million to tackle motorway closures

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

3D laser scanning technology to reduce motorway closures times.

Drivers across England are to benefit from shorter motorway closures after crashes thanks to the roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology funded by the government and police, Roads Minister Mike Penning announced today (29 December 2011).

The Department for Transport has awarded 27 police forces across England a total of £2.7 million. The funding, together with police and the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) contributions, will enable them to purchase 37 scanners.

The technology saves time by quickly making a 3D image of the whole crash site, rather than investigators painstakingly surveying multiple sections of a scene. This digital image of the site can then be viewed on a computer screen remotely allowing investigators to take measurements of where vehicles are in relation to each other and examine other important evidence.

The wider roll-out of 3D laser scanning technology is part of a government-led initiative known as ‘CLEAR’. This initiative is delivering an action plan aimed at reducing delays caused by incidents in order to keep traffic moving - a vital element in securing the UK’s prosperity.

Mike Penning said:

There is nothing more frustrating than being stuck in a traffic jam for hours on end. But even worse than that is the shocking £1 billion cost of those lost hours for our economy. That is why we are determined to improve the clear-up of accidents so we can get our motorways re-opened as quickly as possible.

Today’s £2.7 million DfT funding award will see 3D laser scanners rolled out quickly where they are needed most. This will benefit drivers by reducing incident clear up times by 39 minutes on average.

I would like to thank police forces for seizing this opportunity to purchase laser scanners and contributing funds towards the purchase. This clearly demonstrates how forces are committed to helping to keep traffic moving, in support of economic growth, as well as continuing to deliver their vital role in ensuring the safety and security of all road users. I would also like to thank the National Policing Improvement Agency for providing a contribution to the funding.

Last year (2010) there were more than 18,000 full or partial motorway closures lasting a total of more than 20,000 hours.

A government strategy to tackle congestion caused by motorway closures and drive down the £1 billion annual cost to the economy was published in May by the minister.

Assistant Chief Constable Sean White, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said:

On behalf of the police service we welcome enormously this important funding opportunity that has been made possible by government through the Department for Transport. The provision of the latest, leading edge 3D laser scanning technology to assist in the expeditious and detailed scanning of collision scenes will make a very important contribution to properly investigating fatal and life changing collisions whilst always being mindful of the level of economic and other disruption that closures of the strategic road network inevitably cause.

Police forces acquiring this equipment will be in a better position to manage such critical events in a more efficient way and present the most accurate and detailed evidence from the laser scanning devices to criminal, civil and coroners’ courts. The equipment will be deployed day and night across England and will make a real difference to improving the capability of collision investigators, reducing delays for all road users and re-opening motorways and other strategic roads at the earliest opportunity.

As agencies we will work together in the months ahead to closely monitor the introduction of this new equipment to ensure that the benefits of this investment are fully realised both for collision investigation and the free flow of traffic.

Chief Constable Nick Gargan, the Chief Executive of the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA), said:

The 3D laser scanning project is innovative and will enable motorways to be opened more quickly after incidents, passing a direct benefit to the public. The National Policing Improvement Agency is pleased to support the project, which also brings significant improvements in supporting better outcomes in policing and increased efficiency in officer time.

The project also supports a standardised approach to surveying motorway incident scenes, in line with the police service’s Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS) strategy of using IT to enable business change within the service.

Police forces(s) Grant Awarded by DfT £ No of laser scanner units
Essex 69,204 1
Thames Valley / Hampshire 395,675 5
Warwickshire 64, 873 1
Surrey 152,880 2
Hertfordshire + Bedfordshire 158,270 2
Kent 159,390 2
Dorset 56,333 1
Nottinghamshire 64,803 1
West Mids + Staffordshire 194,408 3
West Yorkshire 79,135 1
Derbyshire 64,873 1
Devon & Cornwall 129,605 2
Avon & Somerset 155,260 2
North Yorkshire 76,454 1
Sussex 155,890 2
West Mercia 131,800 2
Cleveland + Durham 157,744 2
Leicestershire 79,765 1
Northamptonshire 79,765 1
South Yorkshire 64,803 1
Cambridgeshire 76,755 1
Norfolk + Suffolk 146,370 2
Total 2,714,055 37

Successful bidders will start to receive their grants in January 2012 to enable them to put the technology to use quickly on motorways and major A roads - benefiting road users across the country.

Notes to editors

In September, police forces across England were invited to bid for a share of a £3.14 million government fund for the purchase of 3D laser scanners to reduce the length of time motorways are closed by incidents.

The fund was open to bids from the 38 police forces in England who have responsibility for policing the strategic road network. They had until November 23 to bid for the Department for Transport money on a match-funding basis.

Of the 23 bids received and assessed, only one application, the City of London’s was deemed ineligible (on the grounds that it did not police routes on the strategic road network). The remaining 22 bids were awarded grants totalling £2.7 million.

Funds have been distributed to areas where the highest impact could be made. We have also ensured that there is a good geographical spread based on the assessment criteria such as:

  • the busiest/worse performing routes (reliability), whether these form part of the Olympic route network (ORN) (the presence of alternate ORN routes, as well as in some cases key arteries that, while not on the ORN, could be directly related to specific Olympic venues not in the force’s area;
  • total delay savings within each police region and the extent to which such savings offer high or very high value for money;
  • the number of collision investigations undertaken between April 2008 and March 2011;
  • the level of contribution from applicants, the minimum being 30% of the whole-life capital package.

To launch the government strategy to tackle congestion caused by motorway closures, a press release and Written Ministerial Statement were issued and a report published in May.

The strategy has recently been rebranded as CLEAR (Collision, Lead, Evaulate, Act, Re-open).

Further information about laser scanners

In carrying out collision investigation the police already use technology to survey an incident scene to assist in understanding what may have happened. 3D laser scanning technology used in the recent trials enables the faster capture of survey data, thereby potentially reducing the time taken for this part of the investigation process.

In 2009, the Highways Agency (HA) carried out an independent trial of 3D laser scanning technology (LST) using results from separate trials conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service and Humberside Police. The trials which where completed in September 2010 found that on average the LST saved a total of 39 minutes per incident.

At the following weblinks you can see the equipment that was used by the Metropolitan and Humberside in the trials.

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