By Kevin Duguid
POLICE will no longer attend minor road accidents while some victims of crime will be told to make an appointment to see an officer under plans to cut costs by one of Scotland’s largest police forces.
Drivers involved in collisions where only vehicles are damaged can no longer expect Lothian and Borders police officers to attend.
Motorists will still be able to receive a report over the phone to send out to insurance firms.
But police chiefs have said the force has “no legal obligation” to attend these accidents if motorists have not broken road traffic laws and are happy to swap insurance details.
Motoring groups have raised concerns that drink drivers may be able to slip away if they are not breathalysed by officers at the scene.
But senior officers have said they will continue to attend accidents where suspected criminality is involved.
Meanwhile, a pilot scheme due to be launched in West Lothian will see victims of “lower level crime”, such as minor vandalism, given the chance to book an appointment to see an officer instead of waiting for them to attend.
The police board has approved the move, which could be rolled out across the Lothians, as an appointment system may be “more helpful” for victims.
However, Neil Greig, of the Institute of Advanced Motorists’ Motoring Trust, said: “The trouble is some people may feel intimidated by the other driver, or there might be a lack of clarity about an accident, which a police report could sort out for the insurance company.
“Additionally, every driver at an accident attended by police is breathalysed. Now someone who may have been caught previously for being over the limit might get away with it.”
Councillor Iain Whyte, convenor of the police board, said: “The appointment system is probably more helpful to members of the public because they can get an appointment at a suitable time rather than having to wait for the police to come.”
A police spokeswoman said: “Police have no legal obligation to attend or record vehicle collisions where two parties have properly abided by the Road Traffic Act where there is only minor damage, there are no injuries to persons and there is no reason for police to attend for public safety reasons.
“Police responses will now be based on the incident’s unique set of circumstances. This will allow us to allocate resources to other incidents which may be of a more critical nature.”
The spokeswoman added that the West Lothian scheme was still under development and final details had to be confirmed.
A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Deployment of police personnel and resources is an operational matter for the chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police.”