Richard Brunstrom wrote to the Daily Post...

We replied...

Richard Brunstrom is the chief constable of North Wales.


When the following letter from Richard Brunstrom appeared in the North Wales Daily Post on 11th August 2003 we simply couldn't believe the spin and the abuse of figures.

So what's wrong?

Firstly he heads his paragraph "road death", then goes on to talk about "killed or seriously injured" (KSI) figures. Since the 2002 figures for North Wales are 44 deaths and 318 serious injuries it should be entirely obvious that the difference, put simply, is 318 deaths. We're never happy to see KSI figures - KSI is a weasel statistic designed to exaggerate road danger, mislead and sometimes even to hide the deaths figure. We've often seen Scamera partnerships claim a reduction in KSI while ignoring a substantial rise in deaths!

North Wales 2002 - all roads

seriously injured

If he didn't intend to mislead by quoting "KSI", why would he head the paragraph "road death"? If he wanted to talk about "road death" why didn't he?

But it gets nastier. He compares 2002 figures with a "late 1990s average". It is long established that serious injuries drop every year due to vehicle safety improvements, road engineering improvements and so on. So he's sneakily incorporating road safety gains from (for example) vehicle safety improvements as far back as 1998 (over a year before Mr Brunstrom came to North Wales!) and intending us to believe that those gains are his achievements! The North Wales Scamera partnership (calling itself "Arrive Alive") didn't start until October 2001 - so he's hoping we won't notice that gains in 1998, 1999, 2000 and most of 2001 have absolutely nothing to do with Arrive Alive.

And what improvement in "KSI" did Arrive Alive achieve in the first full year of operation (2002)?  a 3.2% improvement. And what improvement came nationally in the same period? 2.8%. Mr Brunstrom might well try to claim the benefit for that 0.4% difference (which is a little over 1 KSI) but we can assure him that it is not statistically significant.

But are there other road safety initiatives going on in North Wales besides the cursed cameras? What effect are they having?

So what about the excellent improvement in North Wales KSI in 2001? It's probably partly or largely due to the foot and mouth outbreak and the travel restrictions imposed. Fewer vehicles - and in North Wales many fewer tourists - will mean fewer accidents. 

Finally Mr Brunstrom claims to have the support of the people. It's hardly surprising if he has succeeded in deluding them that Arrive Alive activities have saved 154 lives in a single year. How much support would he have if the truth were told?

Casualties fatalities serious injuries KSI North Wales change on previous year (KSI) National change on previous year (KSI)
1996 awaited awaited awaited awaited -2.1%
1997 58 461 519 awaited -3.1%
1998 63 393 456 -12.14% -5.0%
1999 51 417 468 2.63% -3.9%
2000 60 372 432 -7.69% -2.3%
2001 48 326 374 -13.4% -2.4%
2002 44 318 362 -3.2% -2.8%

The source for these figures is the official publication: "Road Casualties in Great Britain: Main results". It's published annually by the DfT. You can download the six copies required to create this table (here).

So we wrote to the Daily Post...

And they printed the letter on 14th August 2003...

new Since that letter we have obtained further official figures for North Wales (and filled in more of the table above)

We note that the average KSI for 1997 to 1999 using official figures from the DfT was 481 - not the 513 that Mr Brunstrom claimed. We assume therefore that he also included at least 1996 to bolster his claims.

It is absolutely amazing that a Chief Constable can use these sorts of techniques in an attempt to delude the public.

I can tell you for sure, Mr Brunstrom, you will not manage to delude everyone. 

new On the 26th August, In the North Wales Daily Post the following figures were released by Inspector Alan Hughes.

Note that these are apparently accident, as opposed to casualty figures. This is how they were printed in the Daily Post:

We have no idea why they have apparently suddenly switched from casualty figures to accident figures - where more than one person is seriously injured in a crash, that makes more then one casualty, but only one accident.

Accidents fatal KSI fatal change KSI change
1998 56 368 - -
1999 49 374 -12.5%
2000 52 333 6.12%
2001 43 301 -17.31%
2002 41 268 -4.65%
2003 [doubled from figures below] 48 284 17.07%
2003 - first 6 months 24 142 n/a n/a

We note that these figures show larger improvements than the DfT figures in the table above. We cannot explain the difference which is at its largest in 2002. 

We don't know that doubling the 2003 half year figure is the best estimate. We rather expect that the summer months in North Wales are quite heavy on casualties due to tourist traffic and expect the year end figures to be rather worse.

There's no evidence whatsoever here that Arrive Alive's road safety efforts are delivering any sort of casualty reduction.

Calling for real road safety, based on truth

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Created 12/08/2003. Last update 5/09/2003