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School crossing patrol staff to be issued with body cameras to tackle abusive motorists

Cllr Andrew Reid, Linda Love, Kristin Barnard, and Tim Passmore (Suffolk County Council).

According to Suffolk County Council, more school patrol officers feel abuse is becoming a regular occurrence with little respect from drivers for what they do.

Because of this, the council is issuing 10 body cameras to crossing patrol officers which will be rotated around the 61 officers in Suffolk, with a particular focus on sites where incidents have been reported.

They include sites in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft.

In Suffolk there have been 19 recorded incidents in the last six months involving motorists who have ignored crossing patrol staff by not stopping when signalled.

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."

He continued: "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."

The cameras have been purchased by Suffolk's Roadsafe partners Suffolk County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and Suffolk Constabulary using money from the Driver Diversionary Fund, which comes from drivers who have taken part in speed awareness courses.

With the introduction of the devices, PCC Tim Passmore said offenders are more likely to be caught: "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."

Mike Motterham, the Road Safety, Speed and Traffic Manager at Suffolk County Council, told us some incidents have even made patrol officers want to quit.

He explained: "There have been other incidents where drivers have been unhappy that they've been stopped and resulted to bad language and verbal threats.

"That is very unnerving for a school crossing patrol officer who's trying to their job, and the first priority is the safety of the children.

"That is the sort of thing that, on occasions, has led to patrol officers to resign."

Motorists are legally obliged to obey the school crossing patrol sign under the Road Traffic Act 1988. Failure to do so can lead to a prosecution, a fine of up to £1,000 and three penalty points.

 

 

 

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