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Putting Community into Speedwatch – Update

Friday, October 8th, 2021

Monday 11th October is a very important date for Chiltern & South Bucks.

We have written in the past about the very significant potential of changes to Community Speedwatch. We spell out the changes in previous articles, and also in articles in the current editions of Your Chesham and Your Amersham. Please view our previous articles for the detail of how these changes aim to remove frustrations and obstacles.

Community Speedwatch Newsletter – Good News! (14th September 2021)

Fresh Start for Community Speedwatch in Thames Valley (8th April 2021)

Following a successful trial period in two LPAs (Local Policing Areas) it was announced that the new platform would now be rolled out across Thames Valley over a 3-month period from 1st October. Thames Valley Police would slowly migrate users of the old system onto the new platform, on an LPA (Local Policing Area) by LPA basis.

The order of roll-out has now been released, and the very good news is that Chiltern & South Bucks is the second LPA to be migrated, starting from MONDAY 11th OCTOBER!

How important it is to rethink the response to speeding within our communities, was shown by a response by Cllr Martin Tett at the Buckinghamshire Full Council meeting on September 15th to a fellow Councillor raising the question of increasing the number of 20MPH zones. Cllr Tett’s response (which he stressed is a personal one) was that 20MPH zones are no more use than 30MPH zones, and that “the key issue is enforcement, and that is a Police responsibility… it’s a question of actually making sure that people drive within the speed limit, that it’s enforced by the Police…”

In every one of the Forum’s surveys, speeding has been a leading concern across all our areas. Our Neighbourhood Police has taken heed, conducting a number of anti-speeding operations and, where it makes operational sense, combining the targetting of driving offences with other operations, for example against burglars.

But it must be obvious to anyone that our Policing resources may respond with periodic speed monitoring exercises within our communities, but will never be able to supply the consistent monitoring of neighbourhoods that a committed Speedwatch group can.

And in fact, the changes to Community Speedwatch DO align the efforts of Speedwatch groups closer to Police operations. One of the greatest frustrations for CSW members up till now is not knowing what is being done with their data.

In future, not only can data captured in a CSW session be uploaded directly, and automated letters sent out to the registered keeper of a speeding vehicle. But the data will also be immediately visible to roads policing officers, and even notification to DVLA of breaches that fall within their jurisdiction.

PC Lee Turnham is the coordinator of Thames Valley Police Community Speedwatch, and he explains: “Following a successful pilot period earlier this year, where we trialled a new system, the online training and support of volunteers has enabled us to capture important data which in turn has helped police activity.”

“The pilot scheme has been running since April and has proven to be a platform of which individuals and the Police are able to work seamlessly.”

Active oversight by the Police and Crime Commissioner’s office, ownership by the Thames Valley Police/Hampshire Constabulary Joint Operations Unit, a dedicated TVP resource in the person of Community Speedwatch coordinator PC Lee Turnham, and technology that has seemingly delivered as expected, have all played their part.

Launch of Community Speedwatch scheme across Thames Valley (Police & Crime Commissioner press release, October 7th 2021)

What Next?

A CSW newsletter distributed earlier this week by PC Turnham explained the procedures to enable existing groups to migrate, residents to sign on to an existing group, and for residents to start the process of setting up a new group. ANYONE CAN READ IT, AND FOLLOW UP AS THEY SEE FIT. PC Turnham’s letter can be downloaded below.

Among other changes, new speedwatch groups will be able to borrow speed detection equipment and devices for the first 6 months, but will be expected to purchase equipment thereafter. We understand that the way is open for residents to set up ‘micro schemes’, grouping together to target an area of concern in or near their street, or maybe to deter speeding in the vicinity of schools. We would suggest that Community Boards should be sympathetic to funding requests from well supported schemes, targetted at known problem locations.

It will be a matter of seeing how many schemes and volunteers come forward. The changes certainly seem like a democratisation of the process, putting more effective means into the hands of concerned communities. Over time, too, greater public acceptance that volunteers are performing a valuable role will be needed – this has been a major thrust of communication by Community Speedwatch UK, especially in its social media. But we hope that by making schemes more flexible and effective, CSW volunteers should feel more confident of the worth of the time they invest.

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