PEOPLE across the Thames Valley will be put at risk if roads police funding is cut, it has been warned.

Thames Valley Police Federation has warned that funding for the force's roads policing unit needs to be maintained in order to keep the public safe.

While the unit was spared any direct funding cuts in the latest budget, several vacancies for the department were removed.

Andy Fiddler, a Thames Valley Police Federation rep, noted national figures that suggest the unit is needed more than ever.

He said: "We’ve seen a spike in drug driving. The offences of drink and drug driving have seen a constant increase on our roads, and 2015 figures show that 12 per cent of all fatal collisions had one party under the influence.

“The Federation’s message of ‘Cuts have Consequences’ is evident here. To cut roads policing will have a direct impact of an increased risk to the public. This can be seen for example in the offence of no insurance.”

Uninsured drivers are more likely to cause a fatal crash than insured drivers. Mr Fiddler pointed out that, with less officers on the roads, detecting and seizing uninsured vehicles, thus preventing potential collisions, would become less common.

Nationally, the Motor Insurance Bureau states that around 150 to 250 people are killed on our roads per year by uninsured drivers.

Mr Fiddler continued: “An uninsured driver is 10 times more likely to be a drink driver and six times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision.

“The number of uninsured vehicles on the roads in the force area is on the increase, however vehicle seizures and detection of this is on the decline by as much as 30 per cent."

It is not just potential cuts that endanger the effectiveness of the unit. Mr Fiddler pointed out that a new operating model provided its own difficulties.

He continued: “If there are fewer officers, this inevitably means fewer detections and fewer seizures. ?The new operating model that the police have adopted has put even greater strain on roads policing with officers supporting their 'Local Police Area' colleagues and attending an increased number of non-roads policing related incidents."

He said that the Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire and the city would feel the impact of this.

The roads policing unit, which is shared with Hampshire Police, came under close scrutiny before the most recent police budget was approved last month.

Ultimately, only vacancies were removed, with Chief Constable Mr Habgood saying the force will always 'be required to make tough decisions about how best to shape [the] organisation."

The roads policing unit tackles crime on motorways and trunk roads throughout Hampshire and the Thames Valley.