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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