Speedwatch scheme comes in for criticism

Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.
Brought to you by the Morpeth Herald.

A Pegswood resident has described Northumbria Police’s Community Speedwatch scheme as ‘totally useless’.

Tom Vasey was interested in signing up for the initiative, where groups of local residents monitor traffic speed in areas where they believe speeding is an issue.

But he was unhappy when it was confirmed to him that the police do not prosecute motorists going above the speed limit under this scheme.

The force insists that it is beneficial because officers use the data to identify areas where enforcement action needs to be taken and it says a warning letter or home visit, if required, are often sufficient to make a driver take more care to stick to the speed limit.

Mr Vasey said: “The detailed information required by the police is number plate, speed, colour, car make and model, all supplied by the roadside operators with very basic equipment and knowledge of various models.

“I doubt if very many police officers themselves can accurately identify all these in the time it takes for a vehicle to pass by unless there were at least five operators in position.

“And even if this can be achieved, motorists cannot be prosecuted under the Community Speedwatch scheme.

“What is the point in police using what I presume is valuable time in visiting motorists at home to warn them when they know they cannot prosecute?

“What is required is a combined video/radar gun that records the incident as it happens in the hands of the speedwatch team that gives the courts the automatic evidence for prosecution that is required.”

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “Community Speedwatch volunteers will receive relevant training, support and specialist equipment to enable them to monitor traffic speed.

“Motorists who are caught driving above the speed limit by Community Speedwatch receive a letter from police. Often a letter is sufficient to make a driver aware that they were caught driving over the speed limit and should take care not to do so in the future.

“Those caught more than once will be visited at home by an officer. The officer will explain to the driver the dangers to themselves and other road users of speeding and make them aware that if caught by an officer, they will face a fine and points on their driving licence.

“Police also use the information gained by volunteers to identify areas where enforcement action needs to be taken to tackle speeding.

“Police officers and police staff must pass an exam and demonstrate that the speed camera equipment is calibrated to the precise requirements of the law. They are required to go to court and give evidence under scrutiny for the prosecution of speeding drivers.

“This requires specialist training to be able to enforce the law and is not part of Community Speedwatch.”