Fresh Start for Community Speedwatch in Thames Valley
Thursday, April 8th, 2021
The Forum’s surveys show Speeding to be regularly one of the highest scoring concerns. It is fair to say that it is also one of the greatest frustrations for residents.
- Reckless driving is an obvious and visible danger within communities; in the eyes of residents, there are any number of hot-spots around our policing area.
- The different remits of Roads Policing and Neighbourhood Policing mean that, realistically, neither can provide coverage to tackle speeding issues which will satisfy all local communities.
- In the past, even where volunteers stepped forward to help with CSW, the system seemed cumbersome and many felt that their data disappeared into a black hole. Moroeover, CSW has been suspended throughout the pandemic.
To be clear, we can expect enforcement when Police officers encounter speeding motorists. When the Forum has asked for speeding to be treated as a focus area, targetted operations have been carried out. And a number of recent operations have seen our Neighbourhood Police combine targetting erratic driving with anti-burglary activities (eg ‘Operation Glare’). But the reality is that this is one of the areas in which members of the community have played, and can play an important part, by participating in Community Speedwatch (CSW), with the support of Neighbourhood Police.
Thames Valley’s Planned Changes
Recent announcements hold out the promise of a fresh start in Thames Valley, with more transparent management of the scheme, a more efficient use of data, and a streamlined system of sending out notification letters to speeders.
- Once COVID-related restrictions are lifted, schemes will be able to restart their former activity, subject to their local Neighbourhood Police confirming that their area is capable of continuing with letter production/back room staff activities. (Stop Press! Recommencement date has been announced, from 19th April.)
- A new partnership is being launched with Community Speedwatch UK, a not-for-profit social enterprise that provides support for speedwatch schemes.
- A pilot scheme will be launched to trial a new system, supporting and training volunteers, as well as capturing data in order to better analyse data for potential police activity.
- Beginning with one pilot in Buckinghamshire, the scheme is then expected to be trialled in other locations across Oxfordshire and Berkshire over a six-month period and, if successful, will become the model for all community speedwatch schemes in the Thames Valley.
- New speedwatch groups will have the opportunity to borrow speed detection equipment and devices.
- As and when the pilot scheme allows, additional areas will be brought onto the pilot, though roll-out will be by individual Police areas and not individual CSW schemes.
- CSW is now to be driven from the Police & Crime Commissioner’s office (those who attended the Forum’s September meeting may remember a hint to this effect by Deputy PCC, Matthew Barber).
- The Thames Valley Police lead on CSW is PC Lee Turnham, based in Amersham Police Station. Read PC Turnham’s introductory CSW Newsletter.
PC Turnham has explained to us a number of the advantages of the potential new arrangements. In particular, data captured in a CSW session can be uploaded directly to the network, and the system will send out automated letters to the registered keeper of a speeding vehicle. This will replace a much more laborious process involving checks on the Police National Computer. Moreover, with the data shared nationwide, in a commonly accepted format, those who offend repeatedly across a number of areas will show up. It will also be possible for CSW members to arrange their own times for patrols, and not have to wait for coordination with Police Officers/PCSOs. A well-organised CSW scheme can cover much more of the local road network than the Police can.
A new feature, available also to existing schemes, is FREE roadside insurance provided by Thames Valley Police – the cost of public liability insurance has been a potential obstacle for smaller schemes. Teams that wish to take up the free roadside insurance, and not already signed a service level agreement to do so, are asked to e-mail PC Turnham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PC Turnham did advise us, however, to be aware that CSW is an ‘educational tool’ and an information-gathering exercise (eg to identify hot-spots and persistent offenders) rather than beiing able to drive prosecutions per se. However, if these changes make CSW volunteers more confident of the worth of the time they invest, then they must be positive, and we can hope for more schemes and volunteers. We look forward to learning more about progress with the scheme.
Learn more about Community Speedwatch
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