Frustration at signs alerting drivers to speed patrols

Community Speedwatch volunteers are unable to gather data for the police because rules force them to notify drivers they are watching with temporary signs, a Shropshire councillor has said.

The region's crime commissioner has been asked if areas can take a different approach to the community speedwatch signs
The region's crime commissioner has been asked if areas can take a different approach to the community speedwatch signs

Councillor Roger Evans said permanent signs would tell speeding motorists the groups operated in the area but not tip them off to an active patrol, giving a better chance of catching someone exceeding the limit.

West Mercia Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said he held the “unpopular opinion” that a perfect Speedwatch session should see “nobody caught, because everyone is complying with the posted speed”, and said force advice was that drivers should be observed “predominantly overtly”.

But he added that the force was reviewing its policy at the moment.

They were speaking at a meeting of the West Mercia Police and Crime Panel.

Cllr Evans, who represents Longden, said he believed the community-driven road safety initiative had two functions when watching traffic: “Identifying the speeders, then transferring that information to the police for them to take action."

He said: “The frustration in my area is that, when you do Community Speedwatch, you have to put a sign up at the village entrance and exit, both ends.

“So a lot of drivers slow down. Communtiy Speedwatch can identify some but not the ones that speed all the time, slow down when they see a camera and then speed back up.

“Can we do away with the notices at each end of the village and put a sign up at the entrance saying ‘This is a Community Speedwatch village’?

“Drivers will not know then when volunteers are out measuring the speed and Community Speedwatch will be more effective in identifying the speeding motorists.”

Mr Campion – whose office has funded numerous Community Speedwatch groups around the county to help them buy equipment – said: “I’m in danger of voicing a potentially unpopular opinion; my perfect result of speed enforcement is nobody caught, because everyone is complying with the posted speed.

“I recognise the frustration that sometimes Community Speedwatch has when their visibility – high-visibility jackets, signage, etc – reduces the speed of motorists.

“The argument in my mind is that it’s having a success, it is reducing the speed on that occasion, and that is why Community Speedwatch is only part of the issue. It also needs the role of enforcement, the role police also play.”

He said the police are able to carry out covert speed enforcement using unmarked equipment, but said this was not the usual method.

He also encouraged the public to submit dash-cam or helmet-cam footage to the police if they witness and capture drivers breaking the law.

“Ultimately we need to ensure the speed enforcement is done ethically and maintains the support of the community who we are looking to have comply with it,” Mr Campion said.

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