Speed Watch volunteers accused of “hiding” behind road sign

Community Speed Watch volunteers on Bradley Stoke Way

A Bradley Stoke motorist is claiming that police and community volunteers carrying out speed checks in the area have been improperly “hiding” behind road signs and bushes during their monitoring operations.

Mark Setterfield, 26, claims that members of the recently formed Community Speed Watch team and assisting PCSOs are violating police guidelines that require speed traps to be clearly visible to drivers and says warning signs should be displayed to warn drivers that checks are being made.

Mr Setterfield told The Journal of an incident last Saturday afternoon in which two volunteers and a PCSO were carrying out a check on Bradley Stoke Way, close to the Patchway Brook Round (near Pizza Hut and Aldi). After passing the speed trap, which he claims was not visible because the volunteers and police officer were “hiding” behind the pillars of a road sign, he returned to take a photograph (reproduced above).

He also says that a week earlier he noticed volunteers operating a speed trap “in the bushes” further down Bradley Stoke Way, close to the Willow Brook Centre.

In the latest incident, Mr Setterfield says he asked the PCSO why the team were “hiding” behind the road sign, to which the response was: “we’re not hiding and we needed something to lean on while doing this.”

When the motorist said he would be sending a report to the press, the PCSO said “there’s no need for that” and the team quickly packed up their equipment.

Mr Setterfied said:

“I feel it is disgusting that normal everyday people of the community are put through these unauthorised police tactics.”

The aggrieved motorist also claims that the PCSO in his blue uniform was blocking drivers’ view of the volunteers, who were wearing high-visibility jackets.

Enquiries by The Journal have found that the Speed Watch Code of Practice published on the Avon and Somerset Police website makes no mention of the required visibility of operating personnel to the drivers of vehicles being monitored.

However, guidelines in a 2007 Department for Transport document entitled ‘Use of Speed and Red-Light Cameras for Traffic Enforcement: Guidance on Deployment, Visibility and Signing‘ state (para 45):

“Depending upon the enforcement method used, speed camera housings (including tripod-mounted cameras) or the camera operator or the mobile enforcement vehicle should be clearly visible from the driver’s viewpoint at the following minimum visibility distances: 60 metres where the speed limit is 40 mph or less; 100 metres at all other speed limits.”

The Journal passed Mr Setterfield’s complaints to Avon and Somerset Police, who provided the following statement:

Local people have told the neighbourhood team they are concerned about the speed of traffic along Bradley Stoke Way.

In response, a Community Speed Watch scheme was set up. It is run by volunteers from the community who are trained to use speed detection devices.

The volunteers cannot impose a penalty on speeding drivers – instead the registered keeper of the car is sent a letter by reminding them of the risk to themselves and others of driving too fast.

On 10th September 2011 the volunteers were checking traffic speeds between 2:30 and 3:45pm and were briefly joined by Neighbourhood PCSO Jason Green who came to collect the equipment. They found eleven people driving too fast, with speeds up to 62mph registered in the 40mph zone.

Community Speed Watch is not enforcement activity, however volunteers are told it is always best practice to be clearly visible to road users.

PCSO Green said: “We are very grateful to all the volunteers who give up their time to help make local roads safer. They run speed checks at sites which police approve as safe for them.”

“They always wear fluorescent jackets, but often need to lean on a post or rail to steady the speed equipment. As the photos show it would be difficult to hide behind a sign post!”

A police spokesperson added that PCSO Green has now been advised to wear his high-visibility jacket when dropping off and collecting the speed monitoring equipment.

Editor’s Note: The Bradley Stoke Journal fully supports all efforts by police and volunteers to enforce speed restrictions on our roads. We were active in publicising the efforts of local police in setting up the Community Speed Watch scheme and regularly report on initiatives against speeding mentioned in police newsletters and discussed at the Bradley Stoke Safer and Stronger Community meetings. That said, we also feel it is right to give a platform to any resident who feels that appropriate laws or guidelines are not being followed in the implementation of the scheme.

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  1. Given that the spot where volunteers giving up their time are monitoring speed is a wide open road with separate pedestrian / cycle way, how exactly is it making the roads safer?

    As a local person I’d like to inform the neighbourhood team that I’m not concerned about the speed of traffic in Bradley Stoke Way.

  2. I take it Dave P you don’t get out much on foot in Bradley Stoke.

    I regularly see cars doing 50/60 in the 40 zone on Bradley Stoke Way and its worse on Woodlands with SIXTY in a 30 zone (2 in 3 cars are above speed limit). I’d gladly take one of the cameras and catch this idiots!

    Having viewed the speed monitors in action; if you fail to see the guy in the yellow jacket, you are not watching very well. No fine if Not speeding – simple.

  3. I can only hope that Dave P or his kids never have to try and cross Bradley Stoke Way at the Patchway Roundabout crossing near Pizza Hut when cars are approaching at 62mph!

  4. If Mr Setterfied had done his research before contacting the press then he would of known that community speed watch initiatives are not enforceable and therefore do not need to comply with the ‘Use of Speed and Red-Light Cameras for Traffic Enforcement: Guidance on Deployment, Visibility and Signing’ document.

    It is pretty obvious to a motorist that they are members of the public as part of a speedwatch scheme. They aren’t wearing police uniform, there is no marked police car or motorbike present. Nor is there the normal Police enforcement van with a big speed camera sign on the rear. He would also know that all Police mobile speed camera sites have to be approved and declared on this website http://www.safecam.org.uk/CameraSites/CameraList.aspx?d=8
    Note no approved mobile speed camera sites exist in Bradley Stoke.

    Just someone who doesn’t have anything better to do than moan about members of the community who are trying to do everyone else a favour by slowing down traffic on a busy road.

  5. Hey if you’re not speeding then why get so worried about it? If you get a letter informing you that you were speeding then fair enough. the point is you should not be speeding, if he could not see the volunteers then how did he realise they were there and stop and take a photo.

    Fact: there is a huge amount of speeding along this road, twice this week when I have been crossing at the lights between Champs sur Marne and Snowberry close, cars have gone through the red lights, when the bleeping has started, once this week a 72 bus had to break so hard it ended up half way across the crossing! Luckily I always look to see if the traffic has stopped before I cross, a blind person or child would probably cross at the sound of the beeps!

    Lets not worry about being caught for speeding by someone we can’t see, lets just keep to the speed limits!!

  6. Agree with Mike here. They are not enforcing any speed, merely surveying to see how many are speeding. If there were signs up all over the place and everyone visible at the side of the road, then everyone would slow down, the survey would say there’s no problem and the police would be telling us all there’s no speeding problem, when the public are telling them there is.

    The fact is if Mr Snetterfield doesn’t speed, then he has nothing to worry about, visibility or not. The fact that he has complained tells me he likes to exceed the speed limit as he is one of these drivers that has no time to wait around, like so many other motorists on the roads today.

  7. Mike & Adam I agree that speeding is an issue along that road and just for the record I don’t speed because i’ve been at the forefront of what damage it can cause as I was involved in an accident where a speeding motorist crashed into myself. My issue is that although your saying they can’t prosecute, for what the pcso said on the day is if your caught once then they send you a letter catch you twice a visit to your home from the pcso then third time they will look to prosecute.

    Now like i’ve said I AGREE that we have an issue here in bradley stoke with speeding motorists BUT I feel they should be more visible to the everyday motorist than being camouflaged by signs until the last second to show thee community that we all want traffic to slow down instead of speed!

  8. I agree with bothsides, I agree there is a speeding problem in Bradley Stoke, But I also agree with Mr Setterfield that they are hiding! if they want to send a strong message to the community then they need to be visible not hiding or standing behind a 15 ft road sign.

  9. @Mark Setterfield. I’d like to see them try to prosecute a speeding motorist that a member of the public has recorded speeding. I can’t see that standing up in court. I thought only a fully trained Police officer can record your speed and issue a fine. More of an empty threat than anything.

    I do think your correct though; my first thoughts after seeing that photo is that they are trying to remain as hidden as possible (whether it’s effective or not). I think the excuse that they need to something rest on is also rather woolly. Surely they could just use a tripod to mount the speed gun on if they required it to be as steady as possible.

    I’m not condoning speeding. Just believe that having a Police traffic car patrolling Bradley Stoke on the sole purpose of deterring/catching speeders is a much better option; rather than relying on members of the public to give up their spare time just so a speeding driver can get a letter through the post.

  10. i also agree with mr setterfield i think hiding is stupid it could also make someone take their eyes off the road not sure if someone was going to step from behind a sign this causing them to loose concentration for a moment, we all hate people who speed and we know the damge it can cause, but hiding behind signs and bushes well thats just stupid personally i’d prefer to drive along and clearly see them at least you then know they are helping the community, it’s a shame more people don’t report these things so come on bradley stoke lets see you VISABLE and slow those speeders down after all if you were genuinly trying to help the community wouldn’t you be proud to be seen.
    well done mr setterfield at least we know you are helping by bringing it to our attention now we won’t think bradly stoke sign posts have grown legs-well done!!!!

  11. The mobile camera that parks in Gipsy Patch Lane is not working within the guidlines, if the Speed camera is not visible from the road it should set up on Tripod next to the road, I was informed of this at a speed clinic. When I questioned the one in Gipsy Patch Lane being parked the other side of a grass verge instead of being adjacent to the road and visible , I was told to be quiet.

    I have heard Avon and Somerset are one the worse offenders of not sticking to the guidelines on where they set up Speed cameras and one police force had a camera parked on double yellow lines.

    Speeding is crime but I thought mobile speed cameras were a deterent not a trap!

  12. Funny how some people find it “not cricket” to catch speeding drivers by being a bit furtive. Do they complain when they are caught by an unmarked police car I wonder? There are too many drivers who speed in Bradley Stoke.
    If I had been the PCSO and the motorist had threaten me with the press I would have responded by “Do as you please mate!” But then I expect I would be reported for not being politically correct!
    Wonder if motorist would have approached police officer in same way. Anything to reduce speeding and accidents is a good thing. Its pathetic that some motorists think being caught should be fair. Injuring someone when speeding isnt fair!!

  13. Living adjacent to Bradley Stoke Way I can say that an extremely large number of vehicles during the night and day do not keep to the 40mph limit. It is an extremely dangerous road, and yet one we encourage children to cross over to go to the leisure centre, library, skate park and leisure centre. Yes there are crossings but as previously advised what happens if the driver is going to quickly to notice the crossing…i dread to think.
    There was an accident earlier this year involving a junior school child on a bike and a van, and accidents when cars queuing up bradley stoke way decide to do a u turn and do not check for motorbikes.
    This road is in the centre of our community and I am really unsure now what can be done to slow it down

  14. In answer to Anoymous the only answer if funding was available are static speed cameras along the road.

    They are visible, 24/7 and a deterrent.

  15. This Setterfield guy is so out of touch, he could almost be on the town council! How many volunteers are there that are willing to stand on all the roads used by speeders 24/7, in order to deter them…. mmmmm??

  16. Thanks for Local Police to get this CSW up and running and thanks to the volunteers as well to help with the cause. I have 2 children and I am really concerned especially on the Pedestrian crossings when the motor vehicles doesn’t stop. I have noticed this happening quite frequently.

  17. There’s just been another accident on Bradley Stoke Way near the crossing from Savages Wood looked like it involves a motorcyclist and a pedestrian.

  18. To be honest this story is pointless. Regardless if they are hiding if you weren’t speeding it wouldn’t be an issue. Everyone makes excuses when they are caught out speeding, they weren’t visible, i didn’t see the signs, he was driving faster than me. The list goes on, why shouldn’t they hide? you shouldn’t be speeding? it would cause less accidents if they were hidden as people wouldn’t harshly break, and the real offenders would be caught. I have studied road traffic accident investigation… the results aren’t pretty and 9 times out of 10 it’s children involved with speeding drivers, i think we should remeber what speeding does rather than moan about people hiding.

  19. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that people COMPLAIN about people hiding to catch speeding motorists.. the moral is quite simple, “Dont speed and you have nothing to worry about” For goodness sake, there are hundereds of children crossing this road every day, some have already been very seriosly injured. Maybe if selfish people with no regard for any one but themselves actually stuck to the limit then these innocent lives would not be tarnished and families not devestated by wreckless ignorant people!!! Good for you all you volunteers, stick at it, the limit is there for a reason, so stick to it, coz one day it might just be one of your family members affected by people like yourself..

  20. Am afraid it is against the law for Speed Cameras and “So called” volunteers to hide and illicitly try and catch anyone….. Teach the parents and Kids to use crossings properly…All the volunteers are doing is putting themselves up for prosecution..

  21. This is getting ridiculous, its a grown man in a large hi-vis jacket standing behind a 15cm wide pole near the end of a straight section of road. I drove past and saw him as soon as the sign was in view. Frankly anyone who thinks this is hiding has such poor observation skills they are a danger to all road users and should be banned instantly for life, not sent a polite reminder letter.

  22. On the same strech of road, just opp the Pizza Hut I think I saw multiple car accident last Tuesday. Not sure of the details but there was a alert on the BBC Traffic website.

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