Could you be a speedwatch volunteer?

June Stendall with Nottinghamshire Police Commissioner Paddy Tipping getting involved in the SpeedWatch scheme on Sutton Road, Mansfield Woodhouse.
June Stendall with Nottinghamshire Police Commissioner Paddy Tipping getting involved in the SpeedWatch scheme on Sutton Road, Mansfield Woodhouse.

Nottinghamshire Police are hoping to recruit more public-spirited volunteers prepared to give up their time to make drivers think again about their speed.

The force is looking for residents to join their community SpeedWatch scheme which they are introducing in the Warsop, Mansfield Woodhouse, Forest Town and Ladybrook areas.

Reporter Kevin Rogers visited a team of volunteers on a busy Meden Vale Road to see why they are so sorely needed and what makes them tick.

Traffic police officers are not the most popular of people, but most motorists accept it is a necessary job to prevent carnage on the roads.

But Community SpeedWatch co-ordinator June Stendall, a former Mansfield district and county councillor, is quick to point out Community SpeedWatch volunteers are not the police,

“SpeedWatch does not operate speed traps, but checks,” she says.

“The scheme is all about educating drivers to reduce their speed.

“SpeedWatch does not operate in national speed limit areas, we operate only in communities where a 30mph or 40mph limit is posted.

“We are not about interfering with neighbours’ behaviour, but about making a difference in improving the safety and quality of life for everyone in the community.”

The team has been on Netherfield Lane, a blackspot identified by police where a 60mph zone becomes a 30mph residential area after cars some through a blind corner and head in the direction of a school.

As soon as we donned our high-viz vests, a car came around the corner and visibly powered down the gears.

June says: “You can bet your boots he’s slowed down just because he’s seen us here.

“It has reminded him there’s a speed limit. It’s about making them aware and to expect the change.

“The next time he comes around that corner he will remember and realise there is a speed limit for a reason.”

Volunteer Chris Hufton spots a red Audi which is slowing down

“When most of them see us they do slow down,” he says.

“We call it ‘bonnet dipping’ because when you put the brakes on, the bonnet dips.”

He clocks it at 38mph in the sights of his speed gun, and a colleague quickly notes its number plate.

But why did he give hours of his time standing in the freezing cold?

The 35-year-old dad-of-three said: “I am sick of people coming down the road here and using it as a racetrack.”

Chris lives locally and is chairman of a junior football club.

He says he was frightened when his sons went out to play because of speeding cars.

“A lot of them get to the corner and fly through the hedges,” he says.

“You can see all the holes they have made in the stone walls. It’s a miracle nobody has been killed.”

June says the team clocks an average of about seven cars an hour at the spot, some going more than 40mph.

And there is no typical culprit – boy racers, white van men, lorries in convoys and mums on the school run are all seen whizzing past.

The team elicits a mixed bag of responses from passing traffic.

One van driver gave them the thumbs up and stopped to ask if they would take position outside his house.

Others, according to volunteer Bob Chapperton, of Forest Town, have a different opinion.

He says: “Quite often they will give us a one or two-fingered salute, but a lot of them give us a wave or a thumbs-up, especially the local people.

“We are a deterrent while we’re here, but if it reminds motorists the next time they travel along the road there is a limit on speed, then mission accomplished.”

Motorists who they catch speeding are sent an advisory letter.

In Nottinghamshire, from January 2012 to mid-November this year, 41 people have died, 256 have been seriously injured and 1,503 injured in collisions which resulted from speeding.

Paddy Tipping, Nottinghamshire police and crime commissioner, recently joined villagers in a speed monitoring operation to raise awareness of the work under way to increase safety in rural communities.

He said: “Speeding remains a primary worry for many rural residents, which is why we are expanding the SpeedWatch scheme, working with our partners to ensure local people are trained and equipped to do much more to combat anti-social driving.”

n For more information, call Nottinghamshire Police’s Warsop neighbourhood policing team on 101, extension 805 3264, or visit the force’s website at www.nottinghamshire.police.uk.