Speedwatch scheme ‘not a numbers game’ as local initiative marks 10 years
It’s 10 years since Suffolk’s first Community Speedwatch scheme was launched in Blythburgh.
The network now covers more than 100 parishes, monitored by almost 750 volunteers.
In the first year, 509 warning letters were sent to motorists speeding through the few villages signed up to the scheme. By the end of 2018, the total topped 10,000.
Community engagement sergeant Steve Wright said each had the desired effect of making people consider their speed, adding: “There’s a groundswell of communities wanting to build the network across the county. With more boots on the ground, we’re more likely to see results.”
Schemes are mainly set up by parish councils, which invest in speed guns, jackets and signs.
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Volunteers are trained by police, who are passed details of speeding vehicles – the registered keepers of which receive two warnings, before the 8% caught a third time, or going particularly fast, get visited by a traffic officer.
“There’s something to be said for reminding people they’re doing something wrong before getting a formal punishment,” added Sgt Wright.
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“If we see a real problem in a community, the mobile camera team will go out to conduct formal enforcement. Schemes aren’t there for us to hand enforcement over. It’s a way of assisting us.”
Sgt Wright praised the work of speedwatch administrators Rod Curtis and Ken Coulling, part of the Elmswell scheme, which saw an almost instant impact, from 38% of vehicles speeding past the village speed indicator to 2.5% clocked by volunteers.
Mr Curtis said: “It’s not a numbers game. The point is to slow speeding vehicles down. That’s the target we want to reach.
“Some information leads to the camera team visiting sites with a high level of speeding.”
Aggravation towards volunteers is rare, said Mr Curtis, but any abuse will be reported to police.
One driver was fined £850 for abusing volunteers in Elmswell, despite having kept to the limit.
Mr Curtis added: “Schemes are predominantly set up by parish councils. They come to us with a site, which is looked at to ensure it’s safe.
“Volunteers have to be in a position where the speed limit is in effect for 300 metres. Signs are put out for their safety, not just to inform motorists.”
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on forming a scheme.