The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) will take a zero-tolerance approach to physical and verbal assaults against its staff.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, more than 300 driving examiners, vehicle testers and roadside enforcement staff suffered physical or verbal abuse while doing their jobs. This was an increase of more than 50% on the previous year.
Attacks on staffs have included: verbal abuse and death threats; damaging staff cars and offices; serious physical assaults; lorry drivers trying to run DVSA enforcement cars off the road; and failed driving test candidates driving off with their examiner still in the car against their will.
At the roadside, at operator sites or authorised testing centres DVSA says it will record any abuse from commercial drivers and vehicle operators as evidence for any investigation by the Traffic Commissioners. In addition, serious incidents will be reported to the police.
In some busy sites, enforcement staff are starting to trial body-worn cameras to capture evidence of abuse.
Furthermore, learner drivers who swear at or verbally abuse staff will be forced to: use a different test centre the next time they take a test and take future tests with an extra supervisor present.
Anyone who threatens or assault examiners, drives off with an examiner still in the car, or damages DVSA property will also be reported to the police and face the strongest possible penalties, it said.
Gareth Llewellyn, DVSA chief executive, said: “I am immensely proud of my colleagues at DVSA, all of whom work incredibly hard to help you stay safe on Britain’s roads. We do not tolerate anyone abusing, threatening or assaulting them.
“Our message is clear - whatever has happened, don’t take it out on our staff. If you do, we’ll press for the strongest possible penalties.”
The Traffic Commissioner for Wales, Nick Jones, added: “My fellow traffic commissioners and I welcome the agency’s campaign to tackle the unacceptable abuse which staff may face whilst carrying out their professional duties.”