West Lothian Community Councils could help stop speeding with “speed tracking devices”

Wednesday August 31st 2022


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Stuart Sommerville

Police officers have suggested that community councils could help stop speeders in their towns and villagers by acting as a “high visibility” deterrent to fast drivers.

The suggestion comes as local officers hope to secure their own speed guns to back up hard pressed traffic police units in tracking West Lothian speeding drivers.

Funding has been found for equipment and training.

But there’s uncertainty at suggestions that the public actually “join” the force to trap speeders through their registration plates.

At Linlithgow’s Local Area Committee this month, chair Councillor Sally Pattle said that community councillors in Newton, a village which has seen huge problems with speeding and HGV traffic heading for the Queensferry Crossing, might be interested in taking part.

But Labour’s Tom Conn warned that the public should think twice.

He said: “If there’s an issue with speeding in a community then why aren’t Police Scotland, the Boys and Girls in Blue, not dealing with it?

“I really think it is for Police Scotland to do this rather than for members of the community who could actually face verbal abuse and threats.”

He cited incidents where parents who had been involved in a survey and action to stop parent parking outside Springfield primary in the town, had faced a barrage of abuse.

Community Sergeant Mike Hart told the meeting that teams were seeking funding to equip and train local officers to use radar speed detection guns in areas where there is a problem.

He explained the initiative, Community Speed Watch, that had been trialled with community councils in Fife, where training was given “using speed tracking devices.”

Members of the public note down vehicle details but do not interact with drivers.

The information is passed back to Police Scotland who engage with motorists and advise them that, if Police Scotland had caught them speeding they would have been given fixed penalty notices and points on their licences.

Sergeant Hart said: “It’s not something for members of the public to stop vehicles. I need to press that. It’s more just high visibility in the community. Signage.

“The police identify a suitable area on the roadway for people to stand. The only responsibility is to use the equipment to collect the number. Police collate the information and we contact the registered keeper of that vehicle to give them some corrective advice.”

He conceded that of the two community councils spoken to, Ecclesmachan, had expressed an interest but not followed it up, and Fauldhouse and the Breich Valley, “basically refused the offer, to put it politely,” he added.

He stressed the project was: “very much in its infancy.”

Lead officer for the Linlithgow LAC Graeme Struthers suggested that the proposals should go before wider council committees as well as the Joint Forum of Community Councils with which the police will meet later this week.

Speaking to the Community and Public Safety PDSP a few days later Supt Alan Carson answered concerns raised by Bathgate Labour councillor Tony Pearson who said: “I’d be worried about the community getting involved.”

Supt Carson told the meeting the scheme: ”worked very well in Fife.”

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