To better understand the nature and
importance of standardising police
supervision and support of Speedwatch,
it is essential to put the purpose of the
scheme into perspective with how the
police are structured nationally.
There are 43 territorial police forces in
the UK each providing services for their
respective area. Needless to say that
with so many autonomous forces
essentially doing the same thing in their
own regions but with several variations
over the same theme tailored to meet
their local interpretation, priorities,
societal and demographic makeup, etc.,
differences rather than synergies set
The involvement of volunteers and members of the public is only one area where there exists significant differences in approach and perception. With regard to Speedwatch, however, these differences most often only relate to what role the scheme plays in the overall strategy; its relevance, efficacy, and perceived necessity rather than an outright rejection of volunteers as a valuable resource in addition to conventional policing assets.
Seen from a community and road safety perspective, it is important also to keep in mind that there is no statutory duty on the police to reduce road traffic collisions over their general duty to prevent crime. In some areas, road safety is totally absent from the policing agenda. This fact makes it so much more important that communities can be actively involved and help address the problem of speeding as an integral but autonomous part of the neighbourhood policing programme.
Offending knows no boundaries
Our national road network go beyond the local geographical boundaries of police forces. It enables vehicles to travel hundreds of miles across numerous local police area boundaries in a short space of time. It is therefore essential that road users habitually exceeding the speed limits have their recorded offences collated nationwide irrespective of where they are observed.
It is the disjointedness of the 43 police forces that causes the running of isolated, localised Speedwatch schemes to be more difficult than is necessary.
Contrary to the police's many remits, Speedwatch has only one purpose: to address the problem of speeding in local areas by educational means. Because of this singular remit, unifying the schemes under one uniformly methodical approach is far simpler than unifying all the UK police forces with their plethora of remits, priorities, and localised issued not necessarily on their neighbouring police force colleagues' agenda.
Local Community Speedwatch schemes are better served when they are joined up nationwide.