Community Roadwatch and Speed Awareness Courses

The “Community Roadwatch” scheme has been promoted by a number of police forces in the last few years. This is where the police train local residents to use speed guns who then report malefactors to the police who send the drivers a “warning” (one might even say “threatening”) letter. But so far as this writer is aware, such letters have no legal force. This scheme has been promoted by Transport for London and the Metropolitan police in London.

According to a recent press report, in the London Borough of Havering they have gone one step further. According to the Romford Recorder, after issuing a letter for the third time to a driver, the police will take further action by issuing a “mandatory speed awareness course” invite. It is not at all clear what legal basis the police might be claiming for having powers to do this. Could they prosecute the driver for example if the speed awareness course invite is ignored?

Of course this kind of scheme, effectively local vigilantism, is opposed by many. For example a poll by Populus conducted on behalf of the AA showed almost equal numbers of people in favour as opposed. As one person said, it was “just an excuse for local busybodies to interfere with neighbours behaviour” (quote from a Guardian article on the subject).

The writer is looking into this topic further.

Roger Lawson

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