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.
Because Speeding has been voted a focus area for Neighbourhood Police in the past, the quarterly newsletters contain quite detailed accounts of operations carried out. For example:
Taplow, Burnham and The Farnhams, Issue 2021/2: “The NH Teams have been out and about across the area carrying out speeding operations. In November & December we carried out checks on Dropmore Road, Burnham where 43 vehicles passed the check site but only one ticket was issued for
speeding. Checks were also carried out on the A355 Beaconsfield Road where 151 vehicles passed the check site but only two were stopped for speeding.
Our Roads Policing unit have been deploying our mobile speed camera vans over the last couple of months at various locations around the South Bucks area. In February the mobile speed camera was deployed on 8 occasions and identified 424 offences. The fixed camera identified in two separate locations 86 speeding offences. In March the mobile camera was deployed on four occasions around the area and 374 offences were identified. Our fixed camera have identified 363 offences in South Bucks during March.“
Chesham, Issue 2021/1 “We have conducted speed enforcement in Chesham concentrating on roads that have been highlighted as a concerns. Unfortunately we cannot be everywhere at the same time though. We know that it is a concern and we make efforts to combat this.
Traditionally Speed enforcement would be conducted by the traffic department and Safer Roads speed vans. The vans generally operate during business hours however they are sited at accident hotspots and thankfully Chesham does not meet the threshold for this.
The local Roads Policing team are aware of the concerns regarding Chesham which has been raised previously and try to undertake enforcement when able to do so again this is subject to their other operational commitments. We have also asked for support with our volunteer special constables.
We are aware that Chesham experiences a high number of complaints regarding high performance vehicles driving around Chesham. Most of these reports are via social media and are not “Official reported”. Some of these vehicles have been stopped and the drivers spoken to however speeding was not observed.”
Thus, we can expect enforcement when Police officers encounter speeding motorists. And a number of recent operations have seen our Neighbourhood Police target erratic driving alongside anti-burglary activities. But the reality is that resourcing is suboptimal, both in terms of competing calls on Neighbourhood Policing, and in being able to mobilise the services of Roads Policing.
This is the context which makes Community Speedwatch so important. Members of the community have played, and can play an important part, by participating in Community Speedwatch (CSW), with the support of Neighbourhood Police.
Fresh Start for Community Speedwatch in Thames Valley
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. Moreover, CSW was suspended throughout the pandemic.
However, recent announcements hold out the promise of a fresh start in Thames Valley, with more transparent management of the scheme, and a more efficient system of sending out notification letters to speeders.
- 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 the data for community speedwatch 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.
- CSW is now to be driven from the Police & Crime Commissioner’s office, and the Thames Valley Police lead on CSW is PC Lee Turnham, based in Amersham Police Station.
PC Turnham has explained to us a number of the advantages of the potential new arrangements. In particular, this includes that 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. Appafrently a different version of warning letter is available for drivers who think they can get away with sending Speedwatch volunteers rude gestures or being abusive!
It will also be possible for CSW members to arrange their own times for patrols, and not have to wait for coordination by Police Officers/PCSOs. A well-organised CSW scheme can cover much more of the local road network than the Police can.
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 a prosecution tool. However, if these changes make CSW volunteers more confident of the worth of the time they invest, then they must be positive.
Anyone interested in joining or starting a local CSW scheme can contact their Parish Council or PC Lee Turnham.