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Department of Home Affairs overview of TT 2008 11 June 2008

Martyn Quayle MHK, Minister for Home AffairsPRE-PLANNING, a co-ordinated approach and the commitment of staff across all divisions within the Department of Home Affairs contributed to a well managed TT.

The race period represents the busiest time of the year for frontline agencies such as the Isle of Man Constabulary, Fire and Rescue Service and Communications Division. Officers have to meet a series of strategic and operational challenges posed by the influx of visitors and a huge increase in traffic on the Island’s roads.

By working in conjunction with other sections of government, voluntary organisations and private enterprise, the Department of Home Affairs played its part in delivering a successful event. The number of arrests highlighted a reduction from last year, while there were fewer overall incidents on the roads than in 2006 and 2007. However, investigations are continuing into the four fatal accidents and reports of dangerous riding by a minority of bikers.

Chief Constable Mike Langdon, who was also Chief Marshal for TT 2008, said:

‘Community safety is always of paramount concern and the number of fatalities and serious injuries was the only disappointing aspect of TT. The enforcement work undertaken by the Roads Policing Unit and our partners in Road Safety was outstanding. Without their efforts and the additional safety initiatives introduced for the race period, the number of serious accidents could well have been a lot higher. I would also like to thank the Department of Transport for its invaluable support, particularly in relation to the one-way system on the Mountain Road and in setting up the TT course.’

Minister for Home Affairs Martyn Quayle MHK paid tribute to department personnel who worked long hours to ensure the smooth running of the TT. He said:

‘The professionalism and commitment of staff once again shone through during what is an extremely demanding time of year. Extra scrutiny was placed on the event in terms of safety and a host of new measures implemented this year proved to be very effective. The statistics for road traffic collisions show a fall when compared with recent years, but the number of fatalities on open roads is obviously an area of concern. This matter will be discussed at the department’s post-TT briefings and much sympathy is extended to the families and friends of the riders involved.’

Chief Constable Mike LangdonThe Roads Policing Unit dealt with 80 road traffic collisions this TT – four fatal, 18 serious, 17 slight and 41 damage-only. This compares with 116 for the Centenary TT (one fatal, 31 serious, 49 slight and 35 damage-only) and 83 in 2006 (no fatal, 24 serious, 24 slight, 33 damage-only and two animal-related).

Inspector Richard Power said:

‘Whilst not wishing to pre-determine the cause of collisions at this early stage it was clear that the standard of riding was often poor, with road users riding beyond their own capabilities.’

In addition to the TT road safety message, police issued a warning during Race Week urging riders to curb their speeds and not to travel too closely to the vehicles in front of them. Other measures, including a high visibility presence on roads through towns and villages, helped to identify anti-social and dangerous drivers and riders.

Inspector Power added:

‘The one-way system on the Mountain Road has, in my view, been a success. Head-on collisions have been eliminated and it has enabled RPU staff to work in a safer environment when investigating collisions.’

The focus of the police is also on maintaining public order and 200 arrests were made in the 16-day period from the Saturday of Practice Week to the Sunday of Race Week. The number of arrests for alleged public order offences – such as drunk and disorderly – rose to 73 from 70 in 2007 and 64 in 2006. This was mainly attributed to the Constabulary’s early intervention policy which has proved effective in preventing more serious crimes taking place.

Arrests for criminal damage and burglary fell dramatically and while the number of arrests for assault showed an increase, certain incidents had resulted in multiple arrests. The figures for theft included the arrest and prosecution of people involved in the removal of TT signage. Statistics released by the Constabulary also showed that 75% of the people arrested during the TT period were local residents.

The Communications Division once again played a pivotal role in the TT experience. The Island’s TETRA (Terrestrial Trunked Radio) system and Emergency Services Joint Control Room (ESJCR) dealt with the customary upsurge in demand. All police officers, fire crews, marshals, race controllers, vehicles and helicopters use TETRA and this year the network handled 128,684 calls during TT fortnight. That compares with 153,300 calls for the Centenary TT in 2007, 114,960 in 2006, 86,996 in 2005 and 83,095 in 2004. The first race day – Saturday, May 31 – proved to be the busiest with 12,885 calls.

Robert WilliamsonCommunications Division Technical Director Robert Williamson said:

‘The TT simply could not run without the TETRA system so a lot of time and effort was put in before and during the event to ensure that everything functioned to the highest possible standards.’

The ESJCR also operated at full capacity to meet the additional workload generated by the TT. A total of 1,696 emergency events, 837 emergency 999 calls and 24,146 non-999 calls were dealt with by staff. The average time to answer a call was just 1.56 seconds – well within the established target of five seconds.

ESJCR Operations Manager Bill McCann said:

‘Operationally, TT 2008 was a great success and it was testament to the hard work and determination of staff that the huge number of reported incidents was dealt with in a professional manner.’

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