ARSRPE Conference Paper Database

Traffic police and policing: a comparative and socio-historical perspective

Hamelin, Fabrice, Spenlehauer, Vincent

Enforcement & Penalties


Our paper is based on an international comparative study conducted for the D?l?gation Interminist?rielle ? la S?curit? Routi?re (DISR, French Government). It addresses the issue of the institutional, organizational and professional features of road policing in four countries or states during the 20th century: France, California, New South Wales and New Zealand.

We all know that globally more traffic enforcement means fewer traffic violations and thus fewer car accidents. The situation in France over the last three years confirms the soundness of this equation. But how to ensure an appropriate, sustainable level of traffic enforcement in one country? To say the least, policing bodies worldwide do not generally consider traffic policing as a priority. Training personnel, for example, requires funding that is not easily come by. Effective, sustainable traffic policing is clearly not at the top of the political-administrative list. Strangely, however, very little research has dealt directly with this crucial question.

The emphasis of our paper is on highly practical issues. Should a traffic police force be specialized? What does specialization really mean in this context? Does professional specialization of traffic policing hamper overlap with other types of policing (i.e. criminal)?