Warnings replace prosecutions for speeding drivers.

The number of speeding drivers escaping with warnings is soaring due to savage police cuts. This follows a Freedom of Information request from the Daily Mirror.

And road safety campaigners have accused the ­Government of putting lives at risk by hiring an army of ­volunteers to use speed guns in place of officers.

Drivers going too fast can only be ­prosecuted if caught by police.

Last year, 50,000 warning letters were sent to those drivers who were recorded speeding by police officers, up from just 10,000 in 2009.

And police chiefs fear more drivers will be let off with a slap on the wrist as officer numbers are slashed, speed cameras are switched off and road safety spending is axed under George Osborne’s austerity cuts.

Ellen Booth of campaign group Brake said: “These shocking figures show the Government is not taking road safety seriously.”

Police Federation spokesman Inspector Steve White added: “We have seen an increase in crime in the last 12 months because of cuts in police numbers. We don’t want to see an increase in road ­casualties.”

Shadow policing minister David Hanson said: “If this is one of the first signs of the impact of cuts to the front line then it is a warning to the Government to stop, rethink and look again at what it is doing to our police.

“We know the ­consequence of more drivers speeding is more accidents, ­injuries or worse on our roads.”

Police chiefs need to axe 16,000 officers as the ­Chancellor slashes 20% from force budgets. Home Secretary Theresa May has also proposed sending civilians out on the beat with cops.

And town hall chiefs have given volunteers speed guns to monitor streets under schemes such as Community Speedwatch.

They were issued with at least 157 radar kits over the last three years, according to the 18 forces who replied to Mirror freedom of information requests.

Ms Booth said: “People looking to make their community safer is fantastic but it shouldn’t be left to volunteers.

“At the end of the day, these are criminal offences and ought to be taken seriously.”

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dbda is a corporate social responsibility consultancy embracing education and safety in the community. We are privileged to work with a large number of blue chip corporate clients, Government organisations, charitable bodies, Institutes and local authorities. We also have a network of schools, professional bodies, associations, universities and partners, with whom we regularly work in collaboration.

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