Suffolk council to issue school crossing patrol staff with body cameras in order to curb abuse from motorists and other road users
Suffolk County Council is issuing body cameras to some of its crossing patrol officers after ‘drive-through’ incidents and verbal abuse at school crossings.
In Suffolk we have 61 school crossing patrol officers. Increasingly, more officers have reported incidents and have said they feel abuse is becoming a regular occurrence with little respect for what they do.
In the past 6 months, 19 'drive-through' incidents have been recorded in Suffolk where drivers have ignored the crossing patrol officer and did not stop when the officer stood in the road to allow children to cross safely.
The cameras have been purchased by Suffolk’s Roadsafe partners Suffolk County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner and Suffolk Constabulary with money from the Driver Diversionary Fund, which comes from motorists who have taken part in speed awareness courses. The aim of the group is to make the roads of Suffolk safer for all its users.
The 10 body cameras will be rotated around the county focusing in particular at sites where officers have reported an incident. This includes sites in Lowestoft, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds.
The body cameras follow the work of the ‘Stop Means Stop’ campaign from the Eastern Region School Crossing Patrol Group which aims to remind drivers of the potential seriousness of their actions. Drivers are legally obliged to obey the school crossing patrol sign under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Failure to stop can lead to a prosecution and a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points.
Linda Love, the School Crossing Patrol Officer at Foxhall Road Ipswich, said:
“I do a very important job and my priority is the safety of the children I cross. It is unpleasant to be ignored by drivers, and it is not right that on occasion I have been sworn at by drivers within earshot of the children."
Councillor Andrew Reid, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Rural Affairs, said:
“It is outrageous that drivers are putting at risk the lives of school children by failing to stop when our patrol officers are escorting children across the road, and that some road users are being abusive towards our officers for doing their job. This is not acceptable behaviour.
“The use of body cameras will deter intolerable and abusive behaviour and can record any when it occurs. Can I also remind drivers that they must obey the Highway Code and drive slowly when passing schools.”
Tim Passmore, Police and Crime Commissioner for Suffolk said:
“It absolutely amazes me that any driver could ignore a request to stop for a school patrol officer. Keeping our children safe on their way to and from school is hugely important and I just can’t believe that any driver would risk the safety of young children by refusing to stop.
“I fully support the use of these cameras although I’d much rather they were not necessary. The message is simple ‘Stop means Stop’, if you don’t, you now stand a greater chance of being prosecuted.”