An investigation which has revealed that the number of road traffic police officers in Derbyshire has fallen by half in the last 10 years has sparked concerns among residents about road safety.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request, which was submitted by the Press Association, show that Derbyshire Constabulary has 64 road traffic officers on its books, a fall from the 125 officers it had in that department in 2007.
Nationally the results revealed cuts had accelerated in the past five years with numbers falling 24 per cent since 2012, while overall the number was down 30 per cent since 2007.
And the figures for Derbyshire Constabulary, which show a much larger drop in numbers at 49 per cent since 2007, which have been labelled "drastic" by local critics.
Mark Pickard, chairman of Derbyshire Police Federation, which represents officers ranked below chief inspector, said he feared the force could one day be left with no option but to cut its traffic officers altogether.
He told the the Burton Mail's sister title the Derby Telegraph that the drastic cut was in "something which Derbyshire were once famous for – its traffic section".
He said: "It is not a surprise because the force has lost 400 police officers in the past seven to 10 years and everybody has had to take the pain of losing them – you could not take them all from one position.
"The annoying thing about it is all criminals use our main roads. On the M1, these days, you very rarely see a police car patrolling the road, that has been left to the Highways Agency and you only have to think how much criminal activity takes place there.
"Derbyshire was always well known as the place you would never go to and drink around Christmas time because officers would catch you. But you can’t say that any more.
"We now can’t do what we used to do and make our roads much safer.
"A lot of other forces have actually done away with roads policing and that would be a fear for me. If there are more cuts required, which I think this Government will ask us to do, you have to take drastic measures and it could mean they would have to totally withdraw roads policing.”
The AA felt the decline of officers could see more drivers getting away with crimes.
A spokesman said: "We need more cops in cars, not fewer.
"The UK has among the safest roads in Europe, although the number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads has started to rise after many years of steady decline. Maybe there is a link?
"Even senior officers have publicly expressed concern at the falling number of their colleagues."
The Home Office said effective road policing is not just dependent on dedicated traffic officers.
The Government department added the deployment of resources was a matter for chief constables and crime commissioners, who "understand their operational needs better than anyone".
A spokesman said: "The Government has protected overall police spending in real terms since the Spending Review 2015 and we will always ensure forces have the resources they need to do their vitally important work.
"Effective roads policing is not necessarily dependent on dedicated road traffic officers - the use of technology, other police personnel and local communities also have a role to play."