Roads Policing Unit

The Roads Policing Unit (RPU) operates out of four locations across North Wales. (Privacy Notice)

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Led by a Superintendent, the RPU works to the National Roads Policing Strategy which has five strands; casualty reduction, counter terrorism, anti-social use of the roads, disrupting criminality and high visibility patrols of the road network.

Our specially-trained officers work 24/7 to keep you safe. Apart from road offences, they also use technology to track and arrest travelling criminals wanted across the force.

RPU Officers work in partnership with a number of partners to reduce road casualties by using the three ‘Es’ approach to casualty reduction; Education, Enforcement and Engineering.

North Wales Police is not alone in its efforts to cut collisions and deaths on the area’s roads. We work in conjunction with the local authority Road Safety Teams across North Wales, providing publicity on a variety of campaigns and training programmes.

Many associate RPU Officers (commonly referred to as ‘traffic police’) with catching people speeding and dealing with road traffic collisions. Although this is a large part of their role, they do much more.

Fatal 5

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North Wales Police has a robust strategy around enforcing the ‘Fatal 5’ offences which are:

  • Drink and drug driving
  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Using a mobile phone
  • Speeding
  • Dangerous driving

A great deal of campaign work is carried out by the RPU to further promote road safety messages such as the ‘Fatal5’ offences. People committing one of the ‘Fatal 5’ offences are more likely to be involved in a fatal collision than those who are not.

Young drivers

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Young people aged 17 – 25 make up 15% of the population; 10% of driving licence holders and 26% of drivers involved in accidents.

The Deadly Mates campaign is a peer pressure campaign predominantly aimed at passengers of young drivers. The campaign has been designed to raise awareness of the specific risks amongst young drivers and includes branding, literature and a website, which has been adopted across Wales.

Operation Sodium

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Operation Sodium was launched in 2012 in response to the growing number of young people being fatally injured on the roads of North Wales due to driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Part of the campaign involves officers from the RPU as well as Local Policing Services stepping up checks and stopping vehicles – in particular in rural areas.  Operations are planned and specific areas are targeted using both covert and overt tactics.

GoSafe

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GoSafe (or Arrive Alive as previously known) has a number of marked vans and motorcycles spread throughout Wales which are used at various locations to capture offences of speed and other road traffic violations, which include mobile use and not wearing a seatbelt.

The GoSafe partnership is made up of the 22 Unitary Authorities in Wales, the four Welsh police forces and the Welsh Government. The Partnership also work closely with the NPHS and Fire and Rescue Services in Wales.

For further information regarding the partnership, or to find out what happens if you are caught speeding please visit the GoSafe website

Operation Darwen

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Operation Darwen is a seasonal enforcement operation that runs between Easter and October. Officers engage with motorcyclists on popular routes in North Wales. The sole aim of Operation Darwen is to help keep people safe by minimising the risk of a collision. We use intervention opportunities to appropriately engage with people which will include both education and enforcement.

Riders are signposted to BikeSafe and if caught offending may be given the opportunity to attend an educational diversionary course (Rider Intervention Developing Experience - RIDE) in lieu of penalty points.

BikeSafe

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BikeSafe is a national police-led motorcycle project with the main aim of reducing the number of bikers being hurt on the roads due to collisions..

In North Wales workshops are offered for free (subject to booking fee).

The workshops are delivered in various locations to motorcyclists to highlight the risks they face with a view to improving skills, knowledge and hazard awareness.

Further information including booking a workshop is available via the BikeSafe website

Police use of ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition)

ANPR is a computerised system that allows number plates to be read by a vehicle-based camera. The number is then fed through a variety of databases including PNC (Police National Computer) and information from the DVLA. It can check details such as insurance, tax, driver details. ANPR cameras are fitted in most RPU vehicles.

Specialist Roles within the Unit

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Apart from the RPU Inspector, Sergeants and Police Constables there are a number of specialist roles within the unit. These include:

  • Family Liaison Officer (FLO)

 In any collision that involves the death or a life threatening injury of a loved one, the unit automatically deploys a fully trained Family Liaison Officer. The trained officer will act as a bridge between the ongoing investigation and the family of the deceased. The Unit has 15 fully trained Liaison Officers who are on call 24 hours a day. This is a demanding and fundamental roll in all such collisions.

  • Lead Investigator for Serious and Fatal Collisions

The Lead Investigator will be the reporting Officer for fatal and serious life changing collisions. They are competent and experienced staff dedicated to interviewing suspects and witnesses, gathering evidence, presenting files to CPS, and giving evidence to Coroner’s, Magistrates’ and Crown Court.

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Some Officers have the additional responsibilities of patrolling on a motorcycle, specifically focused enforcement and engagement with motorcyclists on campaigns such as Operation Darwen. Other work includes escort work for abnormal loads and VIP visits as well as traffic management for major events. The RPU also have the capability to deploy officers on ‘off road’ bikes to help detect off-road crime.

  • Road Safety Manager

The Road Safety Manager is responsible for providing strategic level advice to North Wales Police and its partners towards collision reduction. The role also involves managing and evaluating engineering reports and safety audits from partner agencies and to make appropriate recommendations. The Road Safety Manager also identifies and recommends road-engineering solutions that could reduce collisions.

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Trained officers have the ability to enforce and prohibit vehicles in relation to the carriage of dangerous goods legislation.

  • Commercial Vehicle Unit (CVU)

The CVU is a joint venture between North Wales Police and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) consisting of four RPU officers and an embedded DVSA operative, which aims to provide a safe environment for all users travelling the A55 (Euro Route 22).

They are dedicated to enforcing the complex legislation regarding driver’s hours, dangerous and overweight loads and vehicle condition. They have graduated fixed penalty notices and prohibition of movement notices at their disposal but their interventions have led to the arrest and imprisonment of drivers for the most serious offences which have also seen courts making forfeiture orders in respect of foreign registered tractor units.

Further information regarding the CVU is available here:

Forensic Collision Investigation Unit

Although based under the Scientific Support Unit, the Collision Investigation Unit work parallel with the RPU, providing 24-hour a day service of professionally trained, specialist Forensic Collision Investigators.

They assist and support officers investigating any fatal or serious road traffic collisions by the application of mathematical principals to determine their cause.

Useful road safety-related links:

If you are interested in the work of the Roads Policing Unit follow members of the team on Twitter via @NWPRPU and @NWPScottMartin