THE North Yorkshire Police Federation has urged police to prove falling officer numbers were not behind an increase in deaths on the county's roads.

The Press reported this week that 51 people died on North Yorkshire's roads last year, an increase of 60 per cent on 2012, with a major increase in motorcycle fatalities, which more than trebled from five in 2012 to 16 last year.

Mark Botham, chairman of the North Yorkshire Police Federation, said the number of fatalities in the 12 month period was the highest in almost a decade, and visitors to the county are constantly increasing, while the numbers of officers on the road were dropping.

He said: "I would look to the force to provide us with transparent data to reassure that cuts are not having the impact of increasing deaths and injuries on the roads.”

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick chairs the 95 Alive road safety partnership, and aknowledged the force had to make "some difficult decisions" following the Government's funding changes, but what money the force had was being invested in the specialist Major Collision Investigation Team, mobile safety cameras and Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology.

He said: “That said, we are committed to maintaining the number of front line police officers in the future, despite further savings which need to be made over the coming years.

“However, police enforcement is just one aspect of road safety. Education and changing behaviour is key to keeping all road users safe and the police can’t do it alone. There is extensive work taking place in partnership with other agencies who make up the “95 Alive” road safety partnership who provide a vital service in educating and informing motorists thorough a range of campaigns and initiatives.”