Community speed watch volunteers carry out a valuable role in helping the fight against dangerous drivers who speed in residential areas, but what powers do they have? Here’s all you need to know…
What is community speed watch?
This is a scheme that allows volunteers to monitor the speed of vehicles passing through their community.
How do community speed watch volunteers monitor the speed of drivers?
Volunteers use hand-held devices that tell them the speed at which drivers are travelling through their ‘patch’. When a driver is going a set amount above the speed limit – typically around 10% – the vehicle’s registration, make, model and colour are recorded.
What happens to the details then?
A spreadsheet of the offenders’ details is then passed to the local police force, who are likely to also add them to a national database.
Will the driver get a ticket?
These schemes are predominantly about education, meaning no speeding tickets will be issued. Additionally, most schemes use equipment that is not of the correct specification, so issuing a penalty would not be possible on a legal footing.
So what’s the point, if tickets can’t be issued?
While penalties can’t be issued, officers will act if speed watch volunteers repeatedly report a vehicle to the cops. Each force is different, but, typically, police will act after two reports of a vehicle speeding. In such a case the owner of the vehicle will be sent an official letter reminding them of the law. If three letters are sent, the force will carry out further investigation.
What if a driver is caught driving at excessive speed?
Most of the community speed watch activity will take place in residential areas, with speed limits of 30-40mph, so driving at excessive speed is a serious offence. If a vehicle is reported for such an ‘offence’ the local police force is likely to take the case further with a ‘strongly-worded’ letter. Prosecution will not be possible from the speed watch team’s recording.
Will that mean motorists who drive excessively fast will get away with it?
No. Many forces say they will actively ‘target’ repeat offenders for ‘enforcement’.
Make sure you’re up to date with the new speeding fines that came into force April 2017
When and where can the speed watch volunteers operate?
The volunteers must operate in a location that has been approved by the police. They must also only operate during daylight hours.