Norfolk's DIY speed camera plan

Do-it-yourself speed traps - manned by village volunteers - are to be introduced in Norfolk.Volunteers are being recruited to trial a scheme in Hopton, near Yarmouth, with a view to rolling out the plan to more than a dozen other speed-plagued communities in the county.

Do-it-yourself speed traps - manned by village volunteers - are to be introduced in Norfolk.

Volunteers are being recruited to trial a scheme in Hopton, near Yarmouth, with a view to rolling out the plan to more than a dozen other speed-plagued communities in the county.

Under the plan, villagers will be out with hand held radar guns to clock the speed of motorists heading through the coastal village, with a brief to record the car's registration number and the sex of the driver.

Over-the-speed-limit motorists will then be sent an official warning letter by police.

Twenty of the DIY radar kits have been bought by Norfolk father and son businessmen Ian and Matt Doughty to be loaned out to villages in the eastern division of Norfolk, which covers a vast area from Yarmouth to Wells along the coast and taking in communities as far inland as Wroxham, Fakenham and villages on the outskirts of Norwich.

Volunteers, who will wear high-visibility jackets, will be selected and briefed on using the speed gun as well as other issues, such as health and safety and defusing possible confrontational situations. Signs will be displayed clearly indicating a speed watch is taking place.

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After launching in Hopton, the scheme will be offered to other parishes in the force's eastern area.

Hopton Parish Council had been pushing for the scheme for months because of concerns over speeding, especially outside the primary school, and council chairman Mike Butcher said last night: “I am over the moon. I will be one of the first ones raising my hand to be trained.”

Acle traffic sergeant Andy Hood, who has been working on the details of the scheme for Norfolk, said: “If a driver is clocked exceeding the speed limit beyond police guidelines, the volunteers will record the vehicle's registration number and whether it is a male or female driving.

“The information will be fed back to the local police safer neighbourhood team and collated on the computer. The driver will then be sent a warning letter asking them not to drive fast through the village.

“If the same driver is caught twice, he or she will be sent a second letter warning they could be targeted by the road police team.”

Sgt Hood stressed that no driver would face prosecution from the information gathered by volunteers, although it might provide valuable intelligence highlighting a speeding problem that could then be tackled by police officers.

He added: “I would invite parishes who are close together, for example Blofield, Brundall, Lingwood and Strumpshaw, to get their heads together and decide if they need a speed watch. They can then find between six and 12 volunteers and put in an application for one.”

He stressed that the spirit of community speed watch was not about vigilante action but a way of calming down traffic in rural areas - if complaints were made about volunteers it was likely they would be removed from the scheme. If the eastern area pilot proved successful it would be introduced across the rest of Norfolk.

Adam Pipe, a senior traffic management officer for Essex Police, where the scheme originally started, said: “Community speed watch here has gone from strength to strength and we now have 37 schemes running.

“We have had really positive feedback from volunteers and the wider public, even from motorists who have been sent a warning letter for speeding and written back praising the way they have been dealt with.” He said the scheme had also provided valuable intelligence for the police to tackle speeding hotspots.

Radar kit sponsor, Matt Doughty, who runs plastics firm, Structure-flex, in Melton Constable, said: “Our sponsorship comes out of our desire to look after the interests of Norfolk life. We, and a number of our employees, live in rural locations, and we have personally encountered people misusing roads in small villages.” The cost of their sponsorship has yet to be calculated, but it will run to several thousands of pounds.