Police call on public to support speed watch campaign

PCSO Scott Underwood
PCSO Scott Underwood

A community speed watch campaign is set to be introduced in Daventry - but can only work with enough public support.

At a meeting on Monday night, Daventry Town Council gave its backingto the programme, run by Northamptonshire Police.The scheme has already been rolled out in villages in the Daventry district but relies on volunteers coming forward to be trained in the use of speed guns.

Sgt Sam Dobbs from the Daventry Safer Community Team told the meeting he needed help from the community to tackle the issue.

He said: “We can’t be everywhere and nor can I put my officers everywhere. One of the biggest things in tackling speeding is education and making people aware of the speed they are doing. If the community can come together, it will help to educate those who are driving at excessive speed.”

The meeting heard from Steve Barber from Northamptonshire Highways department who said there had been 88 recorded collisions in the past three years in Daventry and 33 of them were partly as a result of speeding.

Although the success of Speedwatch rests on community support, the programme has already won the backing of Daventry Town Council.

Cllr Steve Tubb said: “I think we need to support this, as a town council.”

Cllr Wendy Randall said: “I said to my son that this is something I would like to do, go out with the speed gun because there are problems in Daventry with speeding.

“But he said to me not to do it because there will be some people out to get you as a result.”

Officers who run the scheme across the county were on hand to reassure councillors, however, that full training - including conflict resolution - would be given to the volunteers who come forward.

Speaking after the meeting, Sgt Dobbs said: “When we have been out to ask people what the police can do better, this is one of the top things that always comes back.

“We have seen various incidents in Daventry over the past year where speed has been a factor.

“There have been incidents and problems with Ashby Road, Badby Road, Thames Road and Braunston Road among others. I can’t say whether the statistics are bad but as far as all of us at the police are concerned, one collision is too many.

“One of the things that we have to deal with, as well as the crime itself, is the perception of the problem. That is what has led to the idea of setting up the speed watch in Daventry.”

The next stage in the process will need the support of 500 people in Daventry in order for the scheme to go ahead.

The town council also said it would use the town’s annual meeting to be held in March to garner further support from the community.

Falconer’s Hill Infant School in Daventry has backed the plans for a speed watch scheme with some reservations.

The school is based along Ashby Road, one of the places where safety concerns has been raised because of speeding.

This led to the school setting up a petition to introduce a pelican crossing in a bid to curb drivers’ speed which was handed to Daventry MP Chris Heaton-Harris.

The school’s headteacher Coleen Wilkins said: “When we were putting together our road safety campaign for Ashby Road the children did go out with a police officer and a speed gun.

“They noticed the impact someone standing holding a speed gun had on approaching traffic- the majority of drivers did slow down.”

But she did express doubts about how well the scheme would work in the long term.

Mrs Wilkins added: “I suppose an important part of this initiative would be whether it could continue to be effective once people become familiar with it.

“I think the police would have to be involved on some occasions so drivers didn’t start to see it as ‘a dog with no teeth’.”