A group of local volunteers attended a training session at Devizes Police Headquarters in preparation for operating this scheme in Wanborough. Our proposed monitoring sites have now been risk assessed and approved, so we can now get underway.
What is Community Speed Watch (CSW)?
It's a scheme which allows approved and trained volunteers to monitor traffic speeds within their community, in this case the parish of Wanborough. The scheme is monitored and supported by Wiltshire Police. It is intended to be a deterrent to drivers exceeding the speed limit, as excessive speed is the most important factor in injury and death in road accidents. The scheme is not a 'revenue raising' measure, penalties will not automatically be issued.
How does it work?
Trained and approved operators use a speed measuring 'gun' (as used by the police) to check the speed of traffic. Teams will normally consist of at least 3 people, who wear official hi-viz jackets and must be visible to drivers. The speed monitoring locations are carefully selected to allow the best visibility and accuracy of speed checking and to ensure the safety of the operators.
The speed checking device is carefully calibrated and checked for performance before each use. It uses rapid pulses of infra-red laser light, invisible to the human eye, to measure vehicle's speed. It is not a 'radar' device, so is not affected by any kind of detector or jammer.
The team will record the total number of vehicles passing the check point, in order to assess the proportion exceeding the speed threshold set by the police. This threshold is set to allow a reasonable margin for the inaccuracy of some car speedometers. Any vehicles driving at a speed over this threshold will have their registration number, colour and type recorded (i.e. AB12 XYZ, red, van). The police national computer cross references these to ensure that if the registration number is incorrectly recorded, the right vehicle is identified. Vehicle makes are not used, as these are sometimes hard to identify.
What happens when a vehicle is over the limit?
The details recorded are sent to Wiltshire Police immediately after the speed checking session. In the first instance, drivers will be sent a letter informing them where and when their speed was recorded and reminding them of the speed limit. Repeated infringements will result in an escalation of these warnings, ultimately resulting in action by the police.
However, there is a higher threshold, above which speed is regarded as 'Excessive'. This will result in immediate action by the police.
Experience shows that initially around 12% of vehicles will be recorded over the limit, usually falling to around 5% when 'word of mouth' alerts drivers to the scheme. Past experience also indicates that many recorded will be local residents. Don't let it be you!
When will speed checking take place?
The team is free to choose which of the approved sites that they use, when and for how long, without advance notice. Swindon Borough will be erecting signs to notify drivers that this is a Speed Watch area, but the team do not have to wait for this to happen before recording speeds.
CSW operators are under instructions not to get into discussions with drivers about what they are doing, the speeds they have recorded etc. They will carry a letter from Wiltshire Police to explain the scheme. The police control room will be notified in advance of the location and time of the speed checking so any abusive or aggressive behaviour towards the operators will result in an immediate 999 call to the police.
Wanborough Community Speedwatch Team