Are your police supportive of speedwatch?
We praise the police where they want to engage in more effective and efficient road safety policing, but we will also call-out any apathy or poor performance.
As a community suffering a speeding safety issue, probably the biggest problem you'll have is getting your police force to actively engage with AutoSpeedWatch. This doesn't stop you using AutoSpeedWatch, but it might make you wonder what they'll do with the information you send them! We've found, even within police forces that don't 'support' AutoSpeedWatch, that reporting the scale of the issue does increase the subsequent road policing activity.
Each force is different, but you might get delay, claims of 'review' without actual assessment or trialling, and finally reasons why they 'can't' support it. It'll be frustrating and often feel like they don't actually care about road safety, or that they'd rather keep things exactly as they are. Often you'll get lots of warm words about supporting the community, but have little action behind it. Remember that the police are a service to the community and are strategically instructed via your Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). That's why we're recognising and rewarding those police forces and PCCs that support this safety initiative rather than looking for reasons not to.
Top 6 negative responses the police might give you
"It'll mean we've got to process and send loads of warning letters"
No. They've misunderstood. It actually saves them effort and cost. It identifies the worst speeders automatically, allowing them to target their limited resources to where it has the biggest impact. They can send as many, or as few, letters as they used to knowing they'll be far more effective. Note that if they say this excuse, what they're also saying is they also don't want traditional CSW to be more productive; how can that be right?!
"Its a public facing camera with GDPR and Surveillance implications"
AutoSpeedWatch has been designed to be fully compliant with Home Office guidelines and UK law, and is actually far less intrusive than other existing systems. It provides the same raw information as traditional speedwatch, just organised to be more useful. Yes, the placement of public facing cameras requires compliance with the guidelines, but this is the responsibility of the installing and operating parish/local council, not the police. See our section on UK law to see why this excuse is not valid.
"The NASPLE ANPR standards mean we cant support it"
Nonsense. AutoSpeedWatch is not an "ANPR System". The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) define ANPR as a system that automatically records and logs each passing vehicle, which AutoSpeedWatch does not. AutoSpeedWatch is no more ANPR than yellow-box speed cameras. The NASPLE standards are simply irrelevant.
"Policy says no fixed enforcement camera"
It's not an enforcement camera. Where yellow "enforcement cameras" have been withdrawn, it was probably due to restructuring of funding support from the Department for Transport, or because of public sentiment against the police for 'profiteering' from speeding. AutoSpeedWatch does not issue fines, and the public tend to support AutoSpeedWatch because it targets the worst driving, whilst modifying driver behaviour generally.
"It needs to be calibrated to an approved standard"
No. AutoSpeedWatch is not used to issue penalties. Only Home Office type approved equipment can be used as evidence in a court of law, or for issuing penalties. The radar equipment used by Community Speedwatch groups are therefore not required to meet the Home Office type approval standards for evidence. Instead cheap mass-market radar devices typically used for measuring sports performance are often used.
Indeed, "calibration" is entirely the wrong word as it reflects a previous generation of radar guns which required regular frequency testing and tuning to ensure the speed reading was accurate. Since about 2005, most radar Doppler systems do not require this frequency calibration. Instead they work on a different principle where the indicated vehicle speed is immutably linked to the laws of physics. AutoSpeedWatch uses this system. In addition it takes multiple readings, rather than just one. It's accuracy has been thoroughly tested and shown to be excellent. Calibration is simply not an issue.
"We need the visible deterrence of yellow jackets"
If you think about it, this argument make no sense at all. It's not the yellow jackets that slow drivers per se, it's the risk of being caught. This is why motorway average speed cameras are so effective. If AutoSpeedWatch is known to be present and constantly operating, then the risk of being caught is constantly present. If the expectation of being caught is constant then the impact will be longer lasting than ad-hoc traditional speedwatch.
Besides, AutoSpeedWatch does not prevent traditional speedwatch sessions; it adds to them. Traditional speedwatch has been around for two decades now. We still have speeding. Isn't it time to be more effective?
Our advice to you if your police don't engage
Public sector organisations, like the police, can have a don't-rock-the-boat, one-eye-on-the-pension, keep things as they are, 9-5 mentalities. Generally, innovators in these organisation are rare, and that's why public-sector organisations are not naturally responsive to new approaches. Instead they tend to be slow, cumbersome, and often bureaucratic. Don't blame the people within them - such organisations just attract that character of person. Be the champion they need. Be active and insist:
- Contact your PCC. Insist that they respond to public policing concern; that it their job. Make sure they are representing you, not the police. If they don't then don't re-elect them.
- Use the power you have as a democratically elected council to do it anyway. Follow leading examples like Wiltshire Council.
- Do not allow bureaucracy and fear to prevent your road-safety measures.
- It's your community, own it. Do not allow nonsense and apathy to stop you saving lives.
A RoSPA fact sheet reports 217 deaths in 2015 due to exceeding the speed limit, and refers to a study of 4000 safety cameras that concluded a 42% drop in fatalities near safety cameras. That should be sufficient reason to get the police enthusiastic.