New Road Safety Officer appointed due to growth of Community Speed Watch in Warwickshire
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Warwickshire Police has appointed a new Road Safety Officer to support Community Speed Watch (CSW) after seeing significant growth in this popular and effective road safety initiative that has seen the number of Community Speed Watch groups increase from 56 to 72 in Warwickshire since August 2021.
The new CSW groups include Newbold, Mancetter, Warton, Bearley, Pailton, Bidford, Fillongley, Corley, Milverton (Leamington), Marton, Lighthorne Heath, Lapworth, Earlswood, Middletown and Butlers Marston.
Speaking about his new role, Road Safety Officer Gary Strain said “It’s a privilege to be supporting Community Speed Watch volunteers who are doing something to help make the roads in their communities safer for everyone.
“Community Speed Watch groups can make a real difference. During 2022 alone, Community Speed Watch groups went out 650 times to monitor speeds in their local communities resulting in 4,500 warning letters being sent to motorists exceeding the speed limit. However groups would much rather see no speeding vehicles than record a long list of registrations from speeding motorists.
“As well as supporting these existing groups, we are keen to expand Community Speed Watch even further and would welcome enquiries to set up new groups in areas where we are underrepresented including in Nuneaton, Bedworth and Exhall.”
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Warwickshire Road Safety Partnership chair Philip Seccombe said “I am delighted at this new appointment as it demonstrates the growing public support for Community Speed Watch.
“There is no doubt that speed kills and we need those who disrespect speed limits and take unnecessary risks to take responsibility and slow down. Reducing speeding in communities has got to be a partnership approach using a variety of methods. Community Speed Watch has a vital role to play and we are grateful to the volunteers who are helping us in the mission of achieving safer roads in Warwickshire.”
Community Speed Watch is a national initiative where active members of local communities join together to monitor speeds of vehicles in their local area with support from the police. The role of CSW is to use their visible presence to deter speeding in local communities to improve the quality of life of residents who want to feel safe when using their local roads recreationally or to travel.
To ensure no CSW members or the public are put at risk, a full risk assessment is carried out for each group. Volunteers also receive a comprehensive health and safety briefing to ensure they are as safe as possible whilst checking driver speeds on Warwickshire’s Roads.
In Warwickshire each group uses the LTI Speed Lasers. These are initially loaned to the group from Warwickshire Police’s Road Safety Unit before the local parish council is encouraged to independently purchase them over the longer term.
It is anticipated that the visible presence of CSW would cause drivers passing a group to reflect, consider their manner of driving, and change their behaviour. Vehicles found to be exceeding a speed limit threshold are referred to Warwickshire Police and receive a letter with the aim of educating drivers to reduce their speeds. However, in cases where education is ignored and there is evidence of repeat or excessive offences, even across county borders, alternative enforcement and prosecution may follow.
As well as supporting the growing Warwickshire Community Speed Watch Programme Gary Strain will be working alongside the Road Safety Officer whose role is to identify potential moving traffic offences occurring on our roads by reviewing the digital video footage submitted to Op Snap by the public. This can range from driving dangerously or carelessly to overtaking on solid white lines, using a mobile phone while driving, ignoring traffic lights or dangerous driving around other road users, such as horse riders and cyclists.
If you are interested in forming a CSW group in your area, please contact your local Safer Neighbourhood team. The details of your local SNT can be found by visiting www.warwickshire.police.uk and entering your location.
Gary Strain started his policing career in 1979 where he walked the beat in Bilston in the West Midlands. Through his 30 year career Gary has been a beat officer in the Wood End area of Coventry and spent 15 years on CMPG (Central Motorways Patrol Group) where he became familiar with collision investigations and speed enforcement.
PHOTO: New Road Safety Officer Gary Strain (left) with Community Speed Watch volunteers in Shipston on Stour