‘SERP volunteers’ to help with speed enforcement

10.37 | 31 July 2019 | | 16 comments


A group of volunteers in Essex will become the first in the country to be given enforcement powers, under a new initiative.

Co-ordinated by the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, ‘SERP volunteers’ have been trained by Essex Police, enabling them to enforce speed limits within their communities.

In their role, the volunteers will also attend local events, schools and colleagues to raise road safety awareness.

The Harwich and District SERP volunteers will be the first to participate in the initiative – which is designed to raise awareness of the consequences of speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, using a mobile phone while driving, and driving while under the influence of drink or drugs – commonly known as the ‘fatal 4’.

SERP says the scheme is an important tool in its efforts reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on the roads of Essex.

Nicola Foster, chair of SERP, said: “This is a fantastic new initiative that supports residents who want to increase the awareness of the fatal 4 within their community and who are prepared to give up their time to be a visible safe presence on the roads.

“Please encourage everyone you know to drive safely, which includes keeping within the speed limits – particularly through rural communities – and to support the work of these volunteers.

“We are privileged to have the support of these new SERP volunteers, in supporting Vision Zero in Essex.”

Dave Blackiston, co-ordinator of the Harwich and District SERP volunteers, said: “The new ‘Safer Essex Roads Partnership volunteer’ team come from the local community and will work with the community to increase the awareness of the consequences of the fatal 4, through education and enforcement.

“We hope our presence will act as a deterrent and will make people aware of their speed. This isn’t about catching people, this about building on the work of the Safer Essex Roads Partnership in saving lives.

“I feel very proud to be able to support our local area by highlighting the dangers of unsafe driving.”

Roger Hirst, police, fire and crime commissioner for Essex, said: “Improving safety on our roads is one of the priorities in my police and crime plan. Our objective is to reduce harm on the roads and promote safer driving.

“I’m pleased to see that we are giving communities extra technology to help deter drivers from speeding and are able to act on the concerns that residents have raised.”

SERP volunteers is a pilot initiative which will be reviewed after 12 months.


 

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    Whilst respecting Sandy’s views, doesn’t this make the case for automated enforcement using randomly placed automated enforcement equipment. It can be relatively cheap and really does not require any attended presence by either police or volunteers.


    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)
    0

    David,

    Yes I am aware that Scots & English law does diverge very differently. My observations are on the fact that members of the general public are to all intents & purposes taking on the role of what one would have classed as ‘police functions’. There are also dimensions to this in that these individuals could be placing themselves in potential danger? For instance they ‘clock’ someone who has no respect for the law? Someone who wouldn’t think twice about taking on a uniformed warrant card carrying police officer?

    What protection is being afforded these well meaning (but apparently naive members of the public?).

    I can say that Aberdeen City Council transformed it’s Parking Attendants into ‘City Wardens’ with civic powers to issue tickets for littering & other infringements of local bye laws.
    When the attendants asked what powers of arrest they had, they were told none? What happens if we come under attack? You must call 999 for police.

    The management had not taken into consideration that some groups of society do not take kindly to being issued tickets or fiscal penalties in any shape or form! God help this group of individuals if they meet with some such people.

    This is at best an ill conceived idea, which should really be left to those with the power of arrest & detention. That is Police Officers or Special Constabulary at the minimum.

    Please don’t put ‘civilians’ in police style uniforms either as they become a visible target to the disaffected among us.


    Sandy Allan, Aberdeen
    Agree (5) | Disagree (3)
    +2

    Thanks for the interest in this initiative – please see response from SERP on some of the questions raised below.

    ________________________

    Hello, thank you for your comment.

    All the volunteers have been trained and accredited under Police & Crime Act 2017 and will be authorised to complete speed enforcement on behalf of Essex Police within the Tendring District.

    They don’t have the powers to pull over vehicles but they can issue fixed penalty notices or the option to attend an educational course by post, rather than warning letters, (which are sent by Community Speed Watch volunteers).

    Thanks,

    Caroline Churchouse | Communications Manager
    Safer Essex Roads Partnership


    Simon Rawlings
    Agree (2) | Disagree (2)
    0

    Correction! I’ve since found out that that they are using Trucam speed gun/cameras which does record speed AND image of vehicles for evidence, so no necessity to stop drivers. (Technology has clearly moved on since I was last involved with this sort of thing!)

    I presume the evidence gathered will be scrutinised by the camera partnership staff anyway before any prosecutions are started, just as they do with the traditional speed cameras.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
    +3

    Sandy, I do hope you realise that in England and Wales, anyone can launch a prosecution for most offences.

    For example, the RSPCA launch a fair amount of prosecutions for animal cruelty, and additionally if one is thinking of obtaining justice for a white collar crime, it may even be financially advantageous to launch a private criminal prosecution rather than go down the route of civil proceedings.

    As another, more pertinent example, I could also legitimately launch a private prosecution against a police officer for driving in a manner which is dangerous. I don’t go around with a camcorder permanently strapped to my chest however, so I don’t.

    It’s not generally available in Scotland unless generally something very serious has gone wrong somewhere and circumstances have changed in a case and a petition is lodged with the High Court of Justiciary however.


    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
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    0

    ..one other point… according to the photo above.. they only have a speed gun and not a speed camera, so the offenders would have to be stopped and have their details taken, but I doubt if those involved have the authority to do that (unless there is a police officer present of course).


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
    +3

    Finally, Police Academy: Citizens on Patrol comes to pass!

    Really? Why stop at speeding? As some other comments have said ‘If they are suitably trained’, after all its only a bit of paper?

    I would like similar schemes rolled out to other police departments? What about serious fraud? They could get some retired accountants on that? Homicide / Murder investigations? They could recruit Agatha Christie fans! They would be excellent at finding the murders! So long as they had done it in the library with a candlestick?

    Realistically, this isn’t ‘engaging with the community’ in the long run ‘Police resources’ won’t be deployed on ‘real crime’, they will just make some more plods redundant. So long as ‘boxes get ticked’ on a management spread sheet! The day the government (regardless of political colour) tried to run the Military & the police forces like a ‘business’ with its internal & external markets. Customer focus groups, targeted crime (at the expense of other criminal activity of any sort).

    This country needs to actually accept that any further erosion of police capability, will mean more ‘community police initiatives’ & policing on the cheap! Then logically Private Police forces…

    The UK really is becoming a banana republic…


    Sandy Allan, Aberdeen
    Agree (9) | Disagree (9)
    0

    Although the scheme is called ‘enforcement’ is the method actually robust enough to prosecute? If the volunteers’ evidence is to be considered as a basis for prosecution then it will have to be watertight and presumably up to the same required standards which apply to speed cameras and other police speed limit enforcement, not least the calibration of the devices used. I hope it proves a success, but I do wonder if the volunteers know what they are letting themselves in for, if a case is challenged in Court.


    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
    +2

    > where witnesses/volunteers can expect a rigorous cross examination – and need to show they are suitably trained and experienced in the use of this equipment.

    Again, how is this any different to civilians that are paid to whittle their life away in the back in a van? I rather don’t like developments such as these however it’s pretty safe to say that as long as the training that has been given is adequate and the equipment issued is of good working order, it would be rather hard to be properly challenged in the courts.

    Heck, anyone can receive a qualification from a certain company for a few grand to operate mobile speed cameras.


    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)
    0

    I am also interested what the following statement from the SERP website means “SERP volunteers have been trained and authorised by Essex Police enabling them to enforce speed limits within their communities”.

    Could RSGB contact them to put a clarification on to stop many people contacting them individually?

    Helping communities to not just raise their problems but to give them chance to be part of the solution may be worth exploring in this context.


    Nick Hughes, Preston
    Agree (4) | Disagree (0)
    +4

    Great to see that these volunteers are giving up their time in the name of casualty reduction. However, I would expect a high number of challenges from motorists who are reported. Ultimately these cases could be decided in the courts, where witnesses/volunteers can expect a rigorous cross examination – and need to show they are suitably trained and experienced in the use of this equipment.


    Dave, Surrey
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
    +5

    If this deters and slows racing drivers down then a good initiative. Can RoadSafety GB report back on reults please?


    David Matthews, Desborough
    Agree (2) | Disagree (3)
    --1

    Keith
    Videos from helmet cams of dashboard cams have been sent to the police and used as the basis for prosecution. I would there fore question your assertion that the evidence from these groups cannot lead to legal action.


    Paul Luton, Teddington
    Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
    +2

    > However, if this group of volunteers in Essex are being given Enforcement Powers are they actually being given the same powers as a uniformed constable.

    Are they? How is this different to civilians who get paid by the police to spend their time inside a van, peering a camera at people?

    It’s just a safety camera van, without the van nor the safety


    David Weston, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
    Agree (7) | Disagree (2)
    +5

    We did some research on this last year. Police Authorities can devolve and at the same time retain authority to enforce certain traffic offences and issue FPNs. It is not giving other agencies the same power as police officers, and is quite specific to the offence.

    It’s all detailed in a rather technical document at http://www.20splenty.org/how_las_can_enforce


    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (3) | Disagree (5)
    --2

    These schemes are in place all over the country.

    My understanding is that evidence of speeding vehicles can be passed on to the police who will decide if they issue a letter of warning. No legal action can be taken based on the volunteer groups.

    However, if this group of volunteers in Essex are being given Enforcement Powers are they actually being given the same powers as a uniformed constable.
    Can they actually stop vehicles and issues speeding fines?

    Or is it the wrong use of Enforcement Powers?


    Keith
    Agree (10) | Disagree (2)
    +8

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