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Poll: Volunteer community speedwatch members in Suffolk catch more than 8,500 speeding drivers in just 12 months

11:49 20 March 2014

Community speedwatch schemes hailed a successful deterrent

Community speedwatch schemes hailed a successful deterrent

Archant

Thousands of speeding motorists were caught by Community Speedwatch volunteers across Suffolk last year.

A freedom of information request has revealed that 8,584 vehicles were clocked travelling faster than 35mph in 30mph zones between January and December.

Although not authorised to issue fines, the schemes have been hailed as a successful deterrent by Suffolk Constabulary.

The county’s first Community Speedwatch scheme was launched in Blythburgh in 2009.

Volunteers are trained to use speed guns by the police, who are passed on details of speeding vehicles and send warning letters to speeding drivers.

Police may use the information to investigate drivers if they are repeatedly caught breaking traffic laws.

David Kane, from Suffolk police’s community safety department, said: “By giving communities the opportunity to set up schemes, we are able to get valuable information without the deployment of speed cameras.

“If we receive data that shows there is an issue, we put the force of the constabulary behind it.

“Just the sight of someone in a yellow jacket at the side of the road can slow people down. They are doing something to educate drivers about speeding.

“We have had occasions when school buses have exceeded the limit. By writing a letter to the registered keeper - in this case the bus company - there is a realisation that this is not a good example to set.

“If it can curb speeding in villages - particularly where there are schools - it can only be a good thing.”

There are currently about 550 active and pending Community Speedwatch volunteers.

Schemes are funded by local parish councils, which buy the cameras, hi-vis jackets and signs.

One part time police staff member assists with operations, while the chief inspector of community safety co-ordinates the schemes and each safer neighbourhood team has a point of contact.

Specific training on the use of camera equipment, calibration and recording of information is provided when a scheme is set up.

Mr Kane said speeding motorists are initially sent official police warning letters but may be visited by police if caught on three or more occasions.

On a limited number of occasions, the speed of a vehicle caught by a Community Speedwatch scheme has been so high that the driver is visited by safer neighbourhood team members before a warning letter is issued.

Mr Kane added: “It’s not an enforcement. They will be given words of advice.

“The constabulary has not considered allowing fines to be issued in villages where there are Community Speedwatch scheme.

“The key things are prevention, education and getting evidence of a particular problem.

“We believe it is working. If it can help bring speeds down, it can only be of benefit.”

Volunteers are currently needed to help cut speeding in Rendlesham, where vehicles will be monitored in association with Eyke and Bromeswell parish councils following Speedwatch training last month.

Checks will initially be conducted for a few hours, one day a week for three weeks.

Rendlesham parish clerk Heather Heelis said: “Whether it will stop all speeding is doubtful, but we think it will help to slow some drivers down.

“People do react to seeing anyone in a bright yellow jacket standing on the side of the road.

“It has worked in other villages and we hope it can work in ours.”

4 comments

  • I have one in my area and all they seem to do is put out the digital speed displays at the side of the road(handy if you want to check your own car speedo) . They do make you think if driving into a 30mph from the open roads but apart from that I cannot see the regular speeders being too worried about getting just a warning letter.

    Report this comment

    The original Victor Meldrew

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Good idea this. I wonder if a similar scheme could be setup for communities to do a parking watch. They could issue some form of parking warning note and keep a record of drivers who park illegally, passing this back to the police so that regular offenders could be warned more formally. It just seams that the police are struggling with enforcing these minor laws and yet they do make the majorities life better if they are enforced.

    Report this comment

    A Smith

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Ah the yellow jacket eh. Give ANYONE a yellow jacket and they become VERY important. Note the use of words such as "sending warning letters" and "given words of advice". That must be so scary.

    Report this comment

    John Alborough

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

  • Totally wrong for vigilante groups to be setting themselves up as protectors of the Golden Speed Limit! This is a Police job, so get more officers recruited and out doing their job. Go back 30 years and they used to call the A12 'the dirty dozen' and 'a road of broken dreams' which was CB slang for heavily policed. Now you might see the Scam-era van somewhere but a copper? Hardly ever...except on the Wickham bypass at nine-ish on a Sunday morning to catch a few 'Breakfast Run' bikers. Speeding in built-up areas is wrong and if you speed there, you should be fined, end of.

    Report this comment

    Dean

    Thursday, March 20, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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