PO­LICE SHOULD SNAP TO IT

Rossendale Free Press - - Your Views -

LAST week, as friends or rel­a­tives of the two cousins trag­i­cally killed on Tod­mor­den Road, (Rochdale Ob­server March 14 and Free Press March 16), were lay­ing wreaths at the crash site, a white van shot past at 45 to 50 mph. The speed limit here is 30 mph.

I have wit­nessed a car trav­el­ling at over 60 mph on Mar­ket Street, Whit­worth; a driver three times on Lon­gacres Drive at around 45 mph (limit 20 mph); I have had a wagon dan­ger­ously tail­gat­ing my car, flash­ing lights and hoot­ing his horn be­cause I re­fused to ex­ceed the speed limit; I have been over­taken by a speed­ing van which passed on the wrong side of a pedes­trian refuge; all in the last few weeks.

Ex­clud­ing Lon­don, road traf­fic polic­ing has dropped by nearly 50%. Re­cent gov­ern­ment ca­su­alty fig­ures show a 4% in­crease of road deaths for all road users in 2016; at 1,792, this is the high­est an­nual toll since 2011. Fig­ures for suc­cess­ful con­vic­tions for road traf­fic of­fences have de­clined from 611,093 to 516,658 from 2007 to 2016.

At a time of swing­ing aus­ter­ity cuts what can po­lice forces do? Per­haps Wales has the an­swer.

Last De­cem­ber Op­er­a­tion Snap was launched by the four Welsh po­lice forces. This means that if a mem­ber of the pub­lic videos il­le­gal be­hav­iour on Welsh roads the po­lice will take ac­tion. It does not mat­ter what the of­fence might be, whether it is driv­ing dan­ger­ously or care­lessly, con­tra­ven­ing solid white lines, us­ing a mo­bile phone while driv­ing or ig­nor­ing traf­fic lights. If video footage or images are up­loaded to the sin­gle, jointly man­aged site, the rel­e­vant po­lice force will in­ves­ti­gate. In­stead of hav­ing a few brightly coloured cam­eras, most of which don’t work, Wales now has thou­sands of con­cealed cam­eras sup­ported by po­lice forces that have un­der­taken to in­ves­ti­gate clear cases of in­fringe­ments.

West Mid­lands Po­lice have in­tro­duced a dif­fer­ent ini­tia­tive us­ing plain clothed cy­cling of­fi­cers to iden­tify and ed­u­cate drivers who pass too close.

Close passes by mo­torists are haz­ardous for cy­clists and ex­tremely in­tim­i­dat­ing. This may be due to ig­no­rance of the High­way Code and care­less­ness but some­times it is done de­lib­er­ately and ag­gres­sively. The re­sult of the op­er­a­tion has seen a 20% re­duc­tion in ca­su­al­ties among vul­ner­a­ble road users over the course of the year. If West Mid­lands adopted the Welsh re­port­ing sys­tem they could con­tinue their life sav­ing ini­tia­tive at an even lower cost.

If Greater Manch­ester and Lancashire Po­lice in­tro­duced an Op­er­a­tion Snap there would be a huge re­duc­tion in lives lost and ru­ined. It is no se­cret, well tested and an ob­vi­ous so­lu­tion to an in­creas­ing men­ace on our roads, so what are our chief con­sta­bles wait­ing for? Colin Hub­bard Whit­worth

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