Saturday, 5 June 2010


This week my local paper, the Courier, reported an 'initiative' which uses civilian volunteers to help catch speeding motorists. The idea may soon be used in Cupar, a small county town in Fife.

A Community Speedwatch Initiative, which allows residents to use handheld radar guns and pass information to police in a move which has been welcomed in other parts of the UK, has led to concern about vigilante activity.

In other places where the scheme has been tried, apparently mainly in England, volunteers are trained by police and they work in pairs in speed limit areas.

If the scheme is adopted it will run during the simmer months of July, August and September.

Why just during summer? Will the poor Righteous get cold and wet during the other months of the year? I was discussing this with friends last night and even the most Righteous of them was against the idea of civilians doing work which taxpayers expect to be done by professionals. The main objection was that some volunteers could work to their own agendas.

Who's to say that traffic police don't work to their own agendas? Nevertheless, if this initiative was adopted in this area, it would get short shrift by all accounts.


Alex said...

Morning Rosie,
If you really want to be scared about Britain's surveillance/vigilante society check out this website:

Apogee said...

Hi SR.
I believe that East Germany had a scheme like this, "volunteers" reported to the Stasi , about the doings of neighbors, even their own families,one of the main reasons that the people of East Germany reunited with West Germany, to obtain Freedom.
East Germany is no more.
We, the people, did neither ask or vote for this tyranny by stealth.
What authority do these "volunteers" have,? and who gave it to them, is this another new labour scheme to enslave the people?
Has any one with even half a brain thought this through,? and who pays for and controls these "guns".
So who started this off? Does any one realise the legal minefields this official vigilante idea will cause, the possibilities for nastyness if the two vigilantes' on a team dont happen to like someone?

Jayce Kay said...

You have to admire the grand irony of this perverse scheme though, extract money from someone by force of Law for a service, then get willing submissive types to do the job for free.

Evil genius!

Apogee said...

Just looked at Alex's link. Considering that you are not supposed to have private surveillance cameras overlooking the public street,I dont see how this is in any way legal, but I agree with Alex, this is the Stasi mentality for sure.

wisnaeme said...

They had this scheme in operation last week in Coventry.

In that instance the key words were "catch offenders". They were not fined or convicted, just a letter sent to them. Though one motorist had his car impounded for other offences.

No, I don't like this scheme either.
It's a gentle nibbling away of our civil rights by creeping stealth until you wake up and find out "it's the law" you know and it can do as it pleases, to whom, by whoever in the name of whatever with absolutely no redress or accountability of whatever.

Surreptitious Evil said...


Where did you get that from? Section 6 of the ICO 2008 CCTV Code of Practice mentions not covering other people's private property, not public areas. In fact, various bits of the CoP mention "public space" systems - without limiting those to government ones.

I'm not saying that it isn't intrusive and offensive, just that I'm not certain that it is actually illegal!

BTW - the Chinese is something like "Look on their grief is free, their grief is more subjective sadness" and the link is to (coughs) "live chat".


Anonymous said...

I think this is waht Mr Cameron was talking about when he said that the state can't run everything and that volunteers should give up their time to do a lot of the things for which the state has hitherto been responsible.

It's a good thing. If volunteers are doing the simple things, then it means that the complex can be carried out by the professionals... in this case you really don't need a bloke who has been trained as a policeman to operate one of these guns. And let's be honest people completely ignore speed limits, and that can kill. Plus if people are doing it voluntarily then it saves money, our money... and there's an added feeling of community.

The down side(and I've seen this in my professional life) is that many (not all) of the volunteers are busybody types who do have their own agendas, and are sometimes simply impossible to deal with (scary on occasions)... and because they are volunteers, you can't deal with them in the same ways that you would with staff. You have to work hard to get them to be reasonable and that can take more time and effort than doing the damned job yourself.

Still, in this particular job, when all they have to do is make sure that they catch every car, there is probably not much that they can do wrong.

Although... it just ocurred to me that some people may protest that an untrained person set the camera wrong... or whatever... and get off with it, or take up court time which is even MORE expensive...

Argh.... So, in summary... I'm sitting on the fence with mixed feelings.

subrosa said...

Afternoon Alex. That's scary that is Alex. I was tempted to register but don't think I'll bother.

subrosa said...

Hi Apogee. I've no idea who thought this up but it has to be stopped. There was a public meeting this week. Will be interesting to hear how that went.

subrosa said...

That's a great point Jayce!

subrosa said...

'Just' a letter wisnaeme? That letter will be held on file possibly for the rest of your life knowing how our governments behave.

It is stealing our privacy and freedom. What right has any 'volunteer' to tell me how to drive?

subrosa said...

That's for your expert translation SE. I've now deleted the comment.

Can't have my readers getting overheated, not on such a hot day. ;)

subrosa said...

Added feeling of community Tris? If this happened here the people involved would be immediately ostracised. I don't pay taxes for volunteers to do a professional's job. These guns are, at best, a constant source of problems for the police and the legal profession.

Get off the fence, you'll get piles!

Anonymous said...

Well, I was talking more generally about people volunteering to do jobs that were done by the big Labour state. Camerclegg wants to encourage this in ‘the big society’ so that he can reduce taxes.

I think that it depends on the community whether this would go down well or not. I mean in a little village with a main road through which cars speed (I'm talking Muirhead and Birkhill here, just as an example), and where there are big signs saying "slow down" and “30mph” and people don't, because they are in far too much of a hurry to worry about little Muirhead, and where old folk can't get across the road to the shop or the doctors' surgery, and where there's only one bobby for two villages, I think that they might very well not be ostracised by the community.

My friend's kid was killed by a car going 60 in a 40 area, he’d give his back teeth for some pensioner volunteering to give up tier Thursday afternoon to be a snooper.

I agree that in other places, maybe a wee bit trendier, filled with young people with Chelsea tractors, they’d probably be thought of as old fogies.... but not everywhere.

The trouble with coming down off the fence is that really, when you stop and think about it there’s always two sides to a question... and ‘Preparation H’ is not too expensive LOL.

Hamish said...

I am opposed to the Big Brother society -- the state snooping on us. If there was a way of stopping it, I would support that.

But there isn't: the technology is out of the box.

The saving grace is that anyone can do it. This kind of thing doesn't have to be the monopoly of the state. Shove a cctv camera on the front of your house, keep the webcam on your mobile phone switched on -- and record everything onto the memory stick masquerading as a key-ring.

Joe Public said...

It gives the locals the opportunity to report speeding tourists, whilst turning a 'blind-eye' to speeding locals.

wisnaeme said...

... and then there is the big question of whether or not these "guns" are fit for purpose.

Have each and everyone of them got the required Statutary Instrument as per Parliamentary Order (Westmidden)?

Or has this device been merely issued with an Approval order from the Home Secretary? An arrangement rendered inadequate in law with the amendment of Section 20 of the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988 by Section 23 of the Road Traffic Act 1991 which introduced A Parliamentary Prescription by Order requirement for all devices AFTER they were tested and Approved by the Home Secretary.

Just asking.

... and be they "volunteers" or private commercial organisation operatives do they have the neccesary qualifications and of much more significance, do they have the neccesary prescribed Parliamentary authority in law.

Oh, and can we sue them for damages if it can be proven that they f*cked up either by their best practice, less than due dilligence or
... their failure to adequately acertain by the paperwork that their device (singular) has been calibrated within a given time span previously and copies of certificates issued to the operatives concerned.

Hearsay is not good enough, be it criminal or civil.

joe90 kane said...

Aren't motorists, and their illegal habits, the biggest single cause of violent death of children, as well as adults in our communities?

Since when has the public let criminals breaking the law allowed them to get away with murder, literally?

Just because the murder weapon is a car and not a knife or gun, so what.

Joe Public said...


I think you'll find the biggest single cause of violent death of children is.....adults.

joe90 kane said...

I think you'll find the biggest single cause of violent death of children is.....adults.
- Yes, adults being allowed to drive cars in public spaces.

Why are you apologising for the crimes of peadophiles just because they happen to use a car to terrorise and murder their wee victims?

Every motorist who has ever murdered a child will tell you they didn't mean it - Ian Huntley didn't mean it either. It was an accident.

subrosa said...

Tris, true that Birkhill and Muirhead are two villages but they've always been treated as one, because their 'main street' is shared and about a mile long - no more. One bobby is more than enough and there's also a police station which much bigger communities don't have.

There are pedestrian lights on the main road and the reason people perhaps go over the 30 is that it's a long straight. I've never met many speeding to any degree there in recent years and I use that road regularly. Lots of holdups usually with folk going off to their homes off the main road or to the garage, the restaurant of down by Camperdown.

Preparation H is good for wrinkles they say. I've never tried it. Too late for me. ;)

subrosa said...

Aye Hamish, every true. We can all police each other these days. Dreadful.

subrosa said...

Wisnaeme, I believe these guns and also cameras are a regular source of questions in courts. I know one person who went to court 5 times in 3 years about the accuracy of one and in the end the case was dismissed because the police couldn't prove the equipment was accurate.

subrosa said...

Does that allow someone, with a grudge against another person perhaps,to be able to check the speed of their car Joe?

It's intrusive. At this rate I'll be having friends test my home for evidence of smoke from my cigarettes.

Purely nonsense and something I'll fight against. Volunteers (and I'm one in another sphere) all have their agendas as to why they do whatever they do. Not wise that they get involved in legal matters.

Billy said...

A lot of these people that complain about people speeding through their areas don't give a fig when they speed through other areas. You will probably find a lot of these "volunteers" are just as guilty at doing that.

subrosa said...

I know one mother Billy who delivers her children to school in a 4 x 4 and complains that others won't slow down in the school road.

Then she was done for speeding on her way home.

Justice can be done on occasion.

Apogee said...

Hi Surreptitious Evil.
Can't quote you laws but it was a case in the papers some time back, and If I recall correctly the camera was set up to cover the front of the private property, which also meant it covered part of a public street.
All I will say is with the laws today,try a camera on the front of your house with a school anywhere near and I think you will be quickly advised if its legal or not!

joe90 kane said...

I take your point subrosa about the vigilante nature of this so-called initiative.

It sounds a bit Dad's Army to me, with local busibodies and well-known nosey-parkers being given some kind of unlicensed authority to regulate the lives of their neighbours.

all the best

subrosa said...

My thoughts exactly Joe and I hope Cupar has given it the heave ho at the public meeting this week. I can't find a thing about the meeting online.

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