This week I attended a Speed Watch Summit for CSW co-ordinators at Norfolk Police Headquarters in Wymondham. This was a new initiative by the Chief Constable which aimed to give the teams a voice on how they see the future of Community Speed Watch developing and progressing in Norfolk and what changes they feel should be made by constructive discussion within a group environment with focus being made on key topics.
The session began with a welcome from the Chief Constable Simon Bailey who talked about police funding in the future. He confirmed that the Constabulary now does most of the administration and procurement matters in conjunction with Suffolk Police which has resulted in big savings. He went on to say that the decision to remove the Norfolk PCSOs was a difficult one but means that he will be able to fund another 81 full-time police officers who are able to do so much more than the PCSOs. He reminded us all what a safe area Norfolk is, with just three break-ins reported in the previous 24 hours, but added that the type of crime has changed with reports of domestic abuse and sexual assaults (many of those historic) being much higher today. There is also a lot of on-line fraud/crime today.
Alongside investment in new technology, the Chief Constable has made it his goal to encourage community involvement in all aspects of policing in our county and he has set himself challenging objectives by which to achieve this aim. Building a vision for Community Speed Watch is but one element of the overall strategy with local CSW groups liaising and sharing experience, but also offering support to each other.
The first guest speaker was Terry Tavner who is the county Safety Camera Enforcement Officer. Speed enforcement by the Safety Camera Team is carried out if eleven or more speeding offences are detected in the same location in a month. The Team is able to obtain proof of excessive speeding with high definition photos and a record of the speeding data to enable Notices of intending prosecution to be issued.
We were then briefed by David Law, the Traffic Management Officer for Norfolk Constabulary and a general discussion and feedback followed. One of the concerns that cropped up frequently was the reliability of the equipment that we are issued with (mainly the failure of the batteries in the speed devices, particularly in extremely cold weather). We were reassured to be told that new equipment is being rolled out to all CSW teams. Unsurprisingly, the main issue concerning the fifty-odd team representatives who attended was how to attract and then retain volunteers.
At the end of the summit I met our local Engagement Officer, PC Peter Davison, who is based at North Walsham. He expressed an interest in attending one of our CSW sessions – though did add that his diary was usually booked 3 months in advance! As a result of the summit Pete will send out a monthly overview of action taken across the district. This will show the number of vehicles captured and letters issued and any follow up action by the Safety Camera Team.
I would summarise the day as a positive one with clear expressions of support from Norfolk Constabulary and an enhanced understanding of the issues facing both our Police and the various CSW teams across Norfolk. The substantial challenge for all CSW Coordinators and their village colleagues remain recruitment and retention – and this really falls to each village and town to mobilise support from within each community. How we do this remains somewhat less clear, but involvement from all Southrepps groups and clubs seems a clear enough starting point – from the PCC to local interest groups and our school – we must mobilise support and dialogue through The Mardler and other mediums.
The core message remains – increased traffic demands on our village roads means we must take collective community responsibility by helping our Police Force keep everyone safe.
Southrepps Community Speed Watch Coordinator