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Roadside Interview Survey Guidance in Scotland

DescriptionAdvice to Transport Authorities and professionals regarding the procedure to be followed when planning roadside interview surveys on major highways in Scotland.
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 23, 2004


    Roadside Interview Survey Guidance in Scotland

    December 2004

    This document is also available in pdf format (240k)


    The Transport Group of the Scottish Executive (SE) and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) Road Policing Standing Committee have agreed to foster working arrangements between their organisations through a partnership approach when handling issues relating to roadside interview (RSI) surveys on the trunk road network in Scotland.

    This paper provides a framework agreement between the trunk roads authority and the police concerning the planning and operation of roadside interview surveys in the best interests of road safety. Although this protocol is essentially concerned with trunk roads, the same principles apply to non-trunk roads and the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland (SCOTS) endorse this publication.

    The information set out is intended to complement guidance given in Advice Note TA11/81, "Traffic Surveys by Roadside Interview" contained in Volume 5 of the UK's "Design Manual for Roads and Bridges" (DMRB). This guidance can be accessed via the following website and is consistent with the requirements specified in Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual: http://www.official-documents.co.uk/document/deps/ha/dmrb/index.htm


    The SE is currently responsible for the management, operation and maintenance of 3,500 miles of motorways and trunk roads in Scotland. The day-to-day operational management is at present undertaken by agents BEAR and AMEY who operate on a route and area coverage over the vast majority of this network.

    There are occasions when the SE, sometimes in conjunction with other local roads (or traffic) authorities, needs to conduct roadside interview (RSI) surveys that involve stopping and questioning drivers. The data obtained are used to inform transport planning, traffic management, road construction and many other governmental activities in which transport plays a part. Police forces are an integral part of this exercise, for only a constable in uniform has the appropriate powers under Sections 163 and 35 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to regulate and direct traffic. Powers specific to directions given at a census point are described in Section 35(2) and the method of exercising these powers in respect of a driver unwilling to provide information is described in Section 35(3).

    Occasionally, organisations apart from the SE may wish to carry out RSI survey work on the trunk road network. In such circumstances, contact must be made in the first instance with the SE, as trunk roads authority, to seek agreement in principle, prior to making arrangements with the police or any other authority.

    Police services in Scotland are provided by eight separate and operationally autonomous forces. Each force develops policies and procedures which best suit its local needs. Chief Officers of these forces are however, members of ACPOS, and this provides a degree of consistency on national matters through policy guidance on a broad range of topics.

    The organisation and implementation of such surveys is normally outsourced by the SE and the specialist consultants so employed will appoint a census organiser to liaise with, and meet, the requirements of each individual police force as appropriate. Whilst each case and site location must be judged on its own merits, the following bullet points should identify areas of common interest to assist in this process.

    Initial Contact with Forces
    • The initial contact with the police should be undertaken as early as possible during the planning phase to allow sufficient time for site visits, negotiation of any variation to standard site layouts and to arrange the necessary police staffing to support the survey
    • The survey organiser's initial contact with each individual police force should be directed to the head of the force Road Policing/Operations in order that any policy considerations can be fully explored before more detailed liaison is undertaken
    • The initial contact will also provide the opportunity to gain an understanding of a particular police force's structures and procedures. An early appreciation of these may help minimise resources needed when consideration is given to the essential data collection requirements for a particular RSI site
    • Initial contact should not be made with local police stations
    • A list of all Scottish police forces with contact telephone numbers is supplied in the table at the end of this document
    Location and Layout of Survey Sites


    • Full details of all proposed site locations, including map reference and location description (preferably with a location plan), should be provided with the initial notification to the appropriate police force(s) along with an estimate of hourly traffic flows for each direction
    • For each location, forces will require details of the proposed site layout and signing schedule (preferably with a layout plan) in order that an appropriate risk assessment under HSE criteria can be undertaken in respect of police officer safety
    • Where difficulties are visualised at particular sites, consideration should be give to holding a site meeting to agree any possible modifications to the proposed layout including any supplementary signing considered necessary
    • In extreme cases, where significant difficulties are envisaged which cannot be addressed by additional signing or site reconfiguration, the census organiser may require to consider a relocation or rescheduling of the census
    • In certain circumstances it may be of value to examine records of any traffic incidents or behavioural characteristics, such as peak-hour queues, at the site location and if necessary commission a microsimulation model to be built to demonstrate effective operation of the proposed layout, prior to agreement to proceed
    • All sites must allow for an agreed means of speedily releasing any significant tailback of traffic to minimise potential safety concerns and road user inconvenience
    • At all sites consideration must be given to a contingency plan to allow emergency vehicles the ability to negotiate the site layout, with the absolute minimum of delay
    • The minimum standard of coning and signing required shall be in accordance with Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual
    • On agreement of the site layout, appropriate risk assessments should be reviewed by the census organiser for all personnel involved in the site operation including police officers, traffic interviewers and traffic management contractors
    Operational Agreements


    The appointed census organiser will attend to, and provide:

    • briefing notes for police officers, interviewers, contractors and all other individuals engaged in the survey identifying their role and responsibility together with broad details of the role and responsibility of the survey's site supervisor with whom individuals on site should liaise;
    • details of appropriate risk assessments undertaken for all staff engaged in the operation of the site works;
    • any specific survey requirements, e.g. proportion of LGVs (large goods vehicles), whether to exclude PCVs (passenger carrying vehicles) or particular vehicles, etc.;
    • any specific requirements for additional traffic management such as floodlighting or more robust signage in appropriate circumstances;
    • adverse weather contingency plan;
    • details on the method of monitoring queue lengths and delays and an agreed action plan to speedily release any significant tailbacks of traffic that exceed agreed thresholds;
    • an agreed contingency plan to cater for emergency vehicles passing through the site;
    • criteria for the temporary or permanent suspension of the survey due to congestion, or other operational reasons, and by whom such decisions will be taken;
    • a media/public relations strategy, including notification to emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) and bus service operators, but not publicising precise survey locations to the general public as this may cause re-routeing and a consequent false sample of traffic;
    • a procedure for dealing with comments or queries, with accompanying leaflets or signs, which identify the commissioning authority to whom any such comments or queries should be addressed;
    • instructions on the clear intention, at the beginning of the interview, to indicate to drivers that they are under no obligation to answer the survey questions and that any responses offered are entirely voluntary;
    • details and confirmation, by liaison with the local highway authorities and public utility companies as appropriate, to ensure that no roadworks or other activities are occurring in the area which are likely to impact adversely upon the effective operation of the census site;
    • appropriate toilet and rest facilities for staff in accordance with the requirements of Health and Safety;
    • traffic management arrangements in accordance with the requirements of Chapter 8 of the Traffic Signs Manual, to be both deployed and removed by the appointed traffic management contractor; and
    • a concise on-site briefing immediately prior to the commencement of the survey.
    Police Staffing
    • Police officers employed in connection with surveys are providing a "special police service" which is chargeable under the provisions of Section 8 of the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 which amends Section 1 of the Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970 and a contractual agreement for the payment of appropriate charges will be sought before those officers are so engaged
    • Arrangements for basic rest and toilet facilities for officers employed on site must be provided if such facilities are not present nearby
    The Scottish Executive/ACPOS Partnership Approach

    Adherence to the advice contained within Volume 5 of the "Design Manual for Roads and Bridges", Chapter 8 of the "Traffic Signs Manual", and this guidance document will provide a comprehensive approach to the process of conducting roadside interview surveys in Scotland. Hopefully this will lead to a shared understanding of the procedures involved resulting in a co-ordinated and standardised approach to the police participation in this valuable area of work. These guidelines have been developed around current good practice and should help to build upon existing positive relationships.


    Police Authority



    Telephone number


    Central Scotland Police

    Police Headquarters
    FK8 2HD

    Head of Road Policing

    01786 456502


    Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary

    Police Headquarters
    Cornwall Mount
    DG1 1PZ

    Head of Road Policing

    01387 260533


    Fife Constabulary

    Police Headquarters
    Detroit Road
    KY6 2RJ

    Head of Road Policing

    01592 418410


    Grampian Police

    Traffic Department
    Nelson Street
    AB24 5EQ

    Head of Road Policing

    01224 386740


    Lothian and Borders Police

    Traffic Branch
    Fettes Avenue
    EH4 1RB

    Head of Road Policing

    0131 311 3424


    Northern Constabulary

    Road Patrol Unit
    Dingwall Police Office
    IV15 9QH

    Head of Road Policing

    01349 862444


    Strathclyde Police

    Road Policing Complex
    433 Helen Street
    G51 3HH

    Head of Road Policing

    0141 532 6490


    Tayside Police

    Road Policing Unit
    Baluniefield Police Office
    Balunie Drive
    DD4 8UT

    Head of Road Policing

    01382 596350


    Initial Contact with the Scottish Executive

    This should be made to the Transport Strategy and Legislation Division

    Tel: 0131 244 7260
    e-mail: Diarmid.Lindsay@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

    Further Information

    For more information please contact:

    Diarmid Lindsay
    Scottish Executive
    Transport Strategy and Legislation Division
    Victoria Quay
    Edinburgh EH6 6QQ
    Tel: 0131 244 7260
    E-mail: Diarmid.Lindsay@scotland.gsi.gov.uk

    Inspector John Malcolm
    ACPOS Representative
    Road Policing Complex
    433 Helen Street
    Glasgow G51 3HH
    Tel: 0141 532 6506
    E-mail: John.Malcolm@strathclyde.pnn.police.uk

    SE logo

    ACPOS logo

    Although this document is primarily concerned with the trunk road network, the principles can be applied generally to all public roads in Scotland.

    The guidance in this document has been accepted as current good practice by the Society of Chief Officers of Transportation in Scotland and the Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive.

    An electronic copy of this document is available on the "Transport Model for Scotland" website: www.tmfs.org.uk

    SCOTS logo

    SPT logo


    The geographical boundaries on this map represent the eight police force areas in Scotland

    This document is also available on the Scottish Executive website: www.scotland.gov.uk