residents of a South Tyneside housing estate will soon be gunning for danger drivers putting lives at risk by flouting the speed limit.
Police are recruiting volunteers to help encourage drivers to respect the 20mph limit on the Fellgate estate in Jarrow.
The move follows repeated complaints about drivers going too fast along Durham Drive, the ring road around the estate.
The new community speedwatch scheme is aiming to teach speeding drivers the importance of sticking to the limit, and it will be local residents wielding the detection equipment.
Neighbourhood beat manager Pc Paul Talbut said: “Durham Drive has had a 20mph speed limit for a number of years now, but every time we have a Police and Community Together (Pact) meeting, a lot of people express concerns about the number of drivers speeding in the area.
“This community speedwatch scheme will see us train members of the public to use speed guns and monitor the speeds people are driving themselves.
It’s a busy estate with about three schools in the area and a community centre that is always busy so it’s very important that people stick to the limit.Pc Paul Talbut
“Anyone caught speeding will be sent a letter the first two times and, on a third occasion, a police officer will hand-deliver the letter.
“If they’re caught again, they could face prosecution.
“This is all about educating drivers about the importance of sticking to the speed limit.
“Hopefully, the warnings will make them realise they need to slow down.
“It’s a busy estate with schools in the area and a community centre that is always busy, so it’s very important that people stick to the limit. Durham Drive is a ring road around the estate and is not designed for high speeds.
“We already have our volunteers, but we’re hoping that local councillors will help raise the funds to buy a dedicated speed gun to be used by the volunteers and kept in the ward.”
Coun Linda Hemmer, a UK Independence Party representative for the Fellgate and Hedworth ward, said: “The Pact meetings are a great place for residents to air their complaints, and this shows that something will come of it.
“Hopefully, if we ask at the next community area forum meeting, we’ll be able to secure the money to buy a speed gun.”
One of the ward’s Labour representatives, Coun Geraldine Kilgour, added: “Any measure to reduce speeding issues is most welcomed. The 20mph limit is there for good reason.
“I hope that those receiving letters will appreciate the service provided by those taking the readings on behalf of our community and heed the message.”
Pioneering initiative a huge success, says police chief
Equipping volunteers with speed guns is a tried and tested way of tackling speeding problems, according to Inspector Don Wade, head of the Jarrow and Hebburn neighbourhood policing team.
Getting local volunteers to use speed guns was first tried by Northumbria Police about three years ago in Rothbury, Northumberland, and it had proved a success, he said.
“The scheme in Rothbury has proved to be hugely successfully in helping identify issues and concerns around speeding,” said Insp Wade.
“The community speedwatch initiative supports Operation Dragoon, the force’s road safety campaign aimed at making the roads safe for everyone, and information gained about those consistently caught driving above the speed limit is passed to the operation team.”
He added: “Following concerns received by residents in Fellgate, a community speedwatch scheme has been implemented. It is about raising awareness and educating motorists around the issues of speeding.
“Volunteers will monitor the speed of motorists on a particular stretch on the estate identified by members of the community.
“The scheme is not intended to act as enforcement. The aim is to encourage motorists to adapt their driving habits so they monitor their speed and drive within the speed limit.
“Information gained by the scheme allows assessments to be made on whether enforcement action is required in an area.
“It is only right that those who are caught by the scheme are warned they have been caught, and had they been caught by a mobile speed camera van or speed camera, they would receive a fine. It is hoped receiving a letter will make them think twice about speeding in the future.”