News and Events
Here you’ll find the latest news on all the work that Merseyside Road Safety and our partners are doing to increase road safety across Merseyside.
Team Leader for Safety Camera Enforcement
I’m not entirely sure what I expected the safer roads unit to look like. I have no memory of having ever actually seeing a camera officer – just the big fluorescent vans. I suppose I was expecting the office to either look equally fluorescent (although I don’t know why it would look like the vans) or to be a sort of drab, boxy grey shrine to health and safety.
Actually, the office looks like most offices I’ve ever been in. There are banks of desks, lots of screens, and clearly it’s been somebody’s birthday – there’s a half empty box of brownies on a central table, and a lone purple balloon floating up off the back of somebody’s chair. I can see a few police officers dotted about in full kit, but there are other people in normal work-wear, and some in what I realise are the powder-blue shirts of the camera officer’s uniform.
Tony isn’t in uniform – although he is wearing a shirt in a similar shade (perhaps in solidarity with his officers). Around his desk other people’s monitors are filled with stills of traffic, and I see that they’re cropping them down to get a clear shot of the registration plates. By contrast, on Tony’s screen is a spreadsheet.
We sit down together and I’m given a mug of tea and a brownie. I ask him what it is, exactly, that he as the ‘team leader for safety camera enforcement’ does.
‘Plan the duties for the officers so that they’re getting their fair share of all the different aspects of the role. Making sure deployment is what it needs to be for the ratio of each area… I oversee the vans and sites, the officers’ wellbeing and manage the impact on the rest of the department.’
He reels it off with an air of comfortable familiarity which is impressive for somebody who’s been in the role for 14 months.
‘I was a camera officer for 17 years. I’m actually a bricklayer by trade, but there’s been a lot of things since then [he’s not exaggerating]. I applied for a job in procurement in Merseyside Police. I never applied to be a camera officer… a week or so later I got a phone call asking if I would like to be a camera officer. I thought I’d do it for a few months before I started my own business in garden care… but I’ve been here ever since.’
I ask him what’s changed, and find it hard to believe when he tells me that they didn’t have uniforms and they didn’t have marked vehicles. I can understand the necessity of a uniform, a group of anonymous people photographing your car could prove unpopular – although, as I say to Tony, it’s a pretty unpopular job anyway.
‘Public perception is what it is. They know we’re not police officers. When you’re out and about and you’re getting abused, that’s not nice. You do get loads of abuse. I’ve had people face to face with me. It can get quite hostile. That’s another part of the planning process. When I do the van duties for the week I’ll match the personality to the location and to the time of day. One was injured recently, one was smashed into in the back of the van. But you can’t legislate for that.’
I ask him if he thinks it would be different if they were police officers.
‘We’ve proved it. A lot of times when the team are going out, the sergeant will ask where we’re going. And a couple of times he’s been in the back of the van with me and someone’s come knocking, and then he just opens the door and it’s “sorry officer I didn’t know you were there” and it totally diffuses the situation. It’s like when we have to call in – which we do have to, quite a bit – a police response vehicle will be there in a few minutes. It changes everything. That’s how the whole section 38 thing came in.’
I ask what section 38 is.
‘Section 38 is when someone tries to obstruct us in our duty we can prosecute them… Camera officers have section 38 enforcement powers.’
It’s amazing to me that people come to work every day expecting to get abuse, to the point where legislation has to be brought in. I know why it is though, so I ask the question.
‘Is it a money trap? No. Because people’s lives depend on it. It’s not for profit. It could be considered a cash trap as far as the public are concerned but what the public don’t realise is what goes on behind the scenes, and what happens to the revenue that gets generated. If you look at the figures for the past four or five years it’s been pretty flat. Because of the way we plan it, how we manage the operations, all the communication, being more proactive.’
I want to know what he means about being more ‘proactive’.
‘More proactive to what the public wants, more proactive to our historical data. Looking at my historical data I can see where the potentials are for sites. We will go out, and we will know from the KSIs [numbers of people killed or seriously injured] and the information – people ringing up or requests we get through the Chiefs office, the PCC – can we go and look at this – and we’ll go out and look at it and see if there’s potential there.’
I had no idea that people were actually requesting speed cameras.
‘The councils always want us there… the public want it because the want to see us on the roads. I know I’ve got a certain number of vans, and a certain percentage based on KSIs, so I have to plot in to see how I’m going to reach those percentages.’
I’m getting lost with this a bit, so I ask for an example.
‘So, say if 28% of the number of people killed or seriously injured in Merseyside are in Liverpool. So 28% of my cameras, per week, will go to Liverpool… The KSIs is always going to be top of the agenda.’
I ask if everybody’s happy with that enforcement spread.
‘You’re never going to get it right. Councils and members of the public often want us to enforce in places that are unsuitable. We look to engage with the councils to provide the infrastructure for such things as hard standings and off-road parking. Even if we can cover the cost of a camera for a site, often councils don’t have the budget for the infrastructure.’
It seems as though Tony’s job means that he will permanently be stuck between a rock and a hard place. People he catches will be angry with him, believing it’s a money trap. Residents of streets who want enforcement will be angry if they don’t get it. If the number of people caught speeding goes up there will be negative press. If the number of people caught speeding drops, questions will be asked about whether his proactive approach is working. It’s hard to imagine what a good professional day for Tony could possibly look like, so I ask.
‘Sometimes there’s cake.’ He says, wryly.
My first impression was accurate: this really is just like any other office.
People We Love
Sergeant Daniel Harris of Merseyside Police’s Mounted Section
Sometimes the challenge isn’t about struggling to the top of the hill, it’s about staying on top when you’re there.
Sergeant Daniel Harris of Merseyside Police’s Mounted Section could be forgiven for taking his eye of the road safety ball. Collisions and near misses involving horses in Merseyside are incredibly rare (surprising for a region which, in the sergeant’s words, has ‘tons of horses’). Mounted officers are in incredibly high demand, called upon for everything from crowd control to formal escort, but Sergeant Harris is far from complacent about road safety.
It’s surreal visiting the stables at Mather Avenue Police Station to meet him. Whenever they can, the mounted section welcome visitors to make an appointment and see them, and doing so feels like a real treat. Everything from the mud spattered yard to the gleaming tack room has that wonderful horse smell, and it feels like a rural haven tucked into the city’s suburbs. As I’d brought chocolates for the officers, I felt it was only right to bring the horses something too, so I take a few bags of carrots.
We sit and talk in the small office that the officers share – there are eight of them – and I ask him if the mounted section really have a role in road safety.
‘Some days it’s football, some days it’s operations, weeks of action. You’ll see us all over Merseyside. We’re dealing with enforcing road traffic legislation – careless driving, mobile phones. We’ve got saddle bags, we do OSCOS [an ‘officer seen conditional offer’ – a fine in other words]. Some people don’t really like it when they get stopped by someone on a horse… we’re just the same as any other bobby.’
I can’t image what it must be like to get given a ticket for being on your phone by an officer on horseback – it’s not something you’d be likely to forget.
I ask him about equine RTCs in Merseyside – how they get their data – how do they know what needs doing?
‘The BHS (British Horse Foundation) have got a reporting system. They give us the statistics. It shows near misses as well as actual accidents. They highlight sites as high risk. The Wirral and Formby were highlighted areas, so we said right, okay, let’s take two horses, go out in hi-vis without the police logo, just look like two normal people riding horses. We had the radio on and a police car back down the road… and basically if anyone came past us too close or too fast we just radioed through to say ‘just coming up to you now, Citron Saxo or whatever, going really fast no effort to slow down.’ They’d pull them in having identified a spot that was safe for them to stop. It’s not about persecuting people it’s about the education. It wasn’t about ticketing people for careless driving, it was just about purely, stop them, two minute educational chat: did you know that you should slow down to 15 miles an hour, did you know you should leave 2 meters like for a cyclist? And 99.5% were receptive… We’re not just saying to the public that horse riders are amazing, drivers are all rubbish because actually the BHS actually do a road users code of conduct for horse riders as well – we’re trying to educate them as well.’
On the one hand, I can imagine people being positive – horses are beautiful – who wouldn’t want to stop and see horses (educational talk and all)? Then I try to imagine myself being stopped if I was running late for work and in a bad mood. Would I really see this bit of education as necessary? I ask him why ‘close passes’ are an issue.
‘You’ve got two independently thinking minds to do one thing. If you imagine driving a car, if you turn the wheel right you’re going to go right. If you’ve got a horse, an independently thinking animal that’s big (ours are about 700 kilos) you can ask it to go right, but if it sees something down the road or down the lane it doesn’t like it’s going to be resistant and react in a number of different ways. It can react by rearing up, by spinning, it can jump up and down. There is a big risk. We had one that bolted, ran out of the park… and jumped onto a car bonnet then took off down the road.’
I suppose when a 700 kilo horse has got a problem on the road, everyone else on the road has a problem, too. There are actually significant risks. You need well trained horses, riders and drivers working together.
‘There’s no age limit either’ he adds ‘so technically you could have a 4 year old riding down a dual carriageway with a 70 mile an hour speed limit. You could have a kid on the road on a horse, and a bus goes past thinking it’s fine because it drove past a police horse back down the road and that was fine, and the kid’s pony isn’t as exposed… most horses aren’t as desensitised as ours.’
The consequences don’t bear thinking about. But Sargent Harris does think about them. He understands that the horse riding community often see the mounted officers as role models, and so is always thinking of ways Merseyside’s mounted section can influence the public in positive ways.
‘People look at us and say ‘they’re wearing hi-vis sheets, okay, I need to get a hi-vis sheet.’
He pulls out his phone and shows me images of a row of horses – their tails entwined with ropes of flashing lights. It’s such an obvious idea – yet Merseyside would be the first force in the country to adopt them. I love that, the oldest mounted section in the country using the newest tech. Perhaps that’s how you stay on top of the hill, as it were – by doing small things all the time so you don’t slip and have to start climbing back up. In the case of Merseyside Police’s mounted section, those small things – education, engagement and exemplar behaviours are keeping riders and drivers alike safe across the region. I’m impressed.
Merseyide’s safety aside, however, I’m not 100% happy with the visit. I don’t get to feed a single carrot to a single horse (and can’t think of a professional reason to ask). I’ll be keeping an eye out for Sergeant Harris’s next road safety initiative so that I can make an excuse to come back and try my luck next time.
Come to our mock trial!
We are so excited to be taking part in the mock trial organised by Wirral Council’s Safer Roads Team. Our very own Merseyside Road Safety Partnership Coordinator will be playing the part of Transport Manager, and we’re keen to see her on the stand!
We’d love to see you there!
The Trial Scenario
A driver from Acme Refrigeration, a local refrigeration servicing company, was travelling from Heswall to repair a unit in Chester. On his journey the driver was involved in a collision after trying to overtake a tractor and trailer on a narrow section of road. The subsequent police enquiry highlights several key areas where the company appears not to have fulfilled its duty of care obligations and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) decide to prosecute. The failings highlighted by the police, known as aggravating factors, are reported in Court and consequently make the situation far worse for the employer, and the penalties more severe.
Throughout the mock trial we will look at and examine:
- what caused the road traffic collision;
- why poor company procedures made it worse;
- how failings by senior management to manage company policy and procedures were used against them in court;
- what the penalties would likely be for both the driver and the employer.
To book a free place for the session please:
Where does the money go when you get caught speeding?
If you are a driver who has experienced the flash of a speed camera and received a letter from the police, offering you a Speed Awareness Course, it’s only natural that you may be feeling a little disgruntled. You may be thinking….
“But I was only a little bit over the limit” – well, there are national guidelines that determine how speeding drivers are dealt with. For example, only drivers who exceed a 30 mph speed limit by over 5mph are penalised or offered a course. If their speed is over 42mph, they will receive a fixed penalty to face prosecution.
Another thought may be ““why aren’t they out catching real criminals” –well, there are hundreds of people every year in Merseyside who are killed or seriously injured on our roads as a result of a speeding driver. Many of these incidents result in permanent, life-changing injuries. They are REAL incidents that affect REAL lives, caused by REAL speeding drivers who are often driving at 5 or 6 mph over the speed limit.
And finally, “speed cameras, they just make money for the police, don’t they?” Well, let’s address this one.
Where the money goes
Fines for things like speeding and pavement parking don’t actually go to Merseyside Police, they’re paid directly to H.M Central Ticket Services!
If you qualify or opt for a course instead of a fine when you’ve been speeding, your course fee pays for the cost of the venue (often a hotel or conference room), the trainers who deliver the course and course materials.
In Merseyside, our course rates are among the most reasonable in the country. We sometimes accumulate a small surplus per candidate and this money is invested in improving road safety across Merseyside for some of our most vulnerable road users. For example,
• Engage scheme – an initiative operated by the Merseyside Road Safety Partnership (MRSP) and driving instructors to better educate novice drivers and help keep them safe during their early driving months and years. Engage was awarded a Prince Michael of Kent International Road Safety Award in 2012
• Drive Safely for Longer – driving assessments for the over 60s that raise their awareness of issues that affect senior drivers and in some cases, enable to re-assess their driving futures. Over 2,500 drivers have benefitted in recent years
• Bikesafe – coaching for motorcyclists, delivered by police and IAM riders
To learn more about how we do that, take a look at our About Us and News pages.
Why are camera vans hidden?
Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘hidden’?
These large white/fluorescently marked vans are used at locations where they can be parked safely, in full view of traffic. If you did not see the van, that may be more to do with a lack of observation than the van’s position.
Simply having the van there can encourage drivers to drive at the correct speed and improve road safety in that community. For this reason, our vans are in demand by residents who want themselves, families and neighbours to be safe.
You can find the full official list of all the static camera and camera vans in Merseyside here.
- Camera sites are chosen for a number of reasons:
- Community concerns and complaints about road safety
- A record of road casualties
- An emerging trend of incidents, identified by our analyst
If we cannot deploy a camera van, we’ll conduct enforcement using police officers or encourage residents to set up a community speed watch scheme so they can take ownership of the problem. In the longer term, we can work with local authorities to explore engineering solutions.
If you’ve still got questions, please get in touch via our contact page.
Having safer roads in Merseyside is our endeavour all year round, but never more so than at Christmas. At a time when most of us want to focus on happiness and positivity, it can be difficult to draw attention to some of the tragedy that can come as a consequence of the festive season. Drink-driving, drug-driving, preoccupied pedestrians… Christmas, sadly, is a time that puts road users at an increased risk.
To get these important safety messages across in a way that was also light hearted, we reached out to Merseyside, and found a choir that was founded on the same community spirit that has come to characterise the way we work as a partnership.
Southport’s ‘Off-Key Choir’ was founded by Diane and Byron as a way to bring people together who love to sing, but don’t have the confidence, o feel they have the ability, to sing in a professional choir. They believe in the power of group-singing to boost mental and physical health, and to bring light into people’s lives. Off-Key Choir has been a huge success, attracting people of all ages, and we were incredibly to have them agree to work with us.
Our data analyst identified the most at-risk groups across the festive-season, and actions road-users could take to alleviate some of that risk. From that, we re-wrote ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ to convey the information in an upbeat, tongue-in cheek way so that the choir could have a go at singing it!
The enthusiasm, commitment and heart that the members brought to the project made it a privilege. To have people of all ages dressing up, practicing and putting their all into performing so that their community could be safe was a true piece of Christmas joy. We hope that everyone who watches it will not only use the road safely at Christmas, but also know that they – their safety and well-being – matters to others.
Merry Christmas from all of us at Merseyside Road Safety Partnership!
Pavement Parking Enforcement
Teaming up with Mersey Specials, our MRSP co-ordinator took to the streets to take action over the huge volume of pavement parking concerns and complaints we’ve had.
Across the last six months, members of the public have been photographing cars obstructing pavements that force pedestrians into the road. Our admin volunteers have taken these photographs and sent the owners of the vehicles a letter warning them that they’re parked illegally, and urging them to consider pedestrians with disabilities, or those with prams.
By keeping track of that data, we were able to take an intelligence-led approach to our first day of enforcement. We targeted areas that were pavement parking ‘hot spots’ and issued tickets where cars were causing an obstruction.
Pavement parking is a huge problem all across Merseyside, and we had a huge amount of support from the public across social media and in person. In some instances we were able to speak to the drivers directly, explain why their parking was dangerous, and move vehicles along.
Whilst out, we also came across drivers speeding, on their phones, and not wearing seatbelts. It was fantastic to be able to engage face-to-face with people about behaviour on the roads which puts them, and others, at risk.
The day of enforcement was so successful that we plan to do them regularly with the continued help of Mersey Specials and our administration volunteers. People from Merseyside giving up their time to make their community a safer place is something we can all be proud of!
Calling all driving instructors
Book your place now for the Engage Driving Instructor Seminar. We are holding an informative day for driving instructors to meet, learn and exchange ideas – packed with talks from leading industry figures and we would love you to join us.
Date: Thursday, 27th February 2020 Time: Registration 8:30 – 9:00 event runs until 4pm
Venue: Holiday Inn, Ellesmere Port, CH66 2AL
Tickets: £50 (including 2020 Engage Driving scheme registration fees for current members and those that wish to join on the day)
The Engage Driving Instructor Seminar will be a relaxed and informative day where driving instructors from Cheshire, Merseyside and across the UK can meet, exchange ideas and enjoy talks from leading industry and marketing experts, including Mike Jones, of the DVSA Enforcement Team and Lynne Barrie, ADI Trainer & ADINJC Chairman.
The £50 admission price will also include the cost of 2020 registration fees for all instructors currently registered for the Engage Driving scheme. And anybody who registers for the scheme on the day will also get their 2020 fees for free.
Topics our guest speakers will be covering include (more to be confirmed):-
* Your Standards Check – A Normal Lesson, Or A Special Event?
* Marketing Your Driving School
* Common Standards Check Mistakes To Avoid
* What We Wish Drivers Knew
* Banishing Driver Anxiety Guest Speakers will include (more to be confirmed):-
* Mike Jones, DVSA Enforcement Team
* Lynne Barrie, ADI Trainer & ADINJC Chairman
* Gary Reece, Highways England
* Des Payne, British Horse Society
* Ian Edward, New View Consultancy
Book your tickets today via https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-engage-driving-instructor-seminar-tickets-84733679717 we look forward to seeing you there.
Please share this event with anyone you know who may be interested too.
The RoadPeace Day of Remembrance 2019 was held at St. George’s Hall, Liverpool.
It was a privilege for us to attend the RoadPeace Day of Remembrance at St George’s Hall on Sunday November 17th.
We, along with many of our partners, City Dignitaries and the Merseyside Police & Crime Commissioner went to pay tribute to the victims of road traffic collisions and their families.
As the purpose of Merseyside Road Safety Partnership is to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured on Merseyside’s roads, standing with those who are struggling through the carnage that an RTC wreaks is a forceful reminder of the reality of our work.
With almost 4,000 people killed and many hundreds of thousands injured on roads throughout the world every day, regional remembrance services such as this are a chance for victims and supporters to come together, remember, grieve, and resolve to make change a reality.
The release of doves was a powerful, and deeply moving, symbol – not only of remembrance, but also of the commitment of everyone present to eliminate road deaths.
Friends and families of victims laid flowers at the RoadPeace memorial within St Johns Gardens to commemorate their lost loved ones.
The emotional words from Merseyside’s Police Crime Commissioner gave a voice to the feeling that we in Merseyside do have a genuine resolve to prevent families having to suffer through these tragedies.
RoadPeace offer emotional support to those impacted by RTCs, as well as help navigating the justice system in the wake of collisions. For anyone who has been affected by an RTC, we would recommend visiting their website and getting in touch.
Nominations are now open for the ‘2020 Best Taxi Driver Awards Scheme’. Launched by Wirral Council, the scheme aims to recognise drivers who make the extra effort to help passengers, provide a good service and maintain their vehicle to a high level.
Licensed drivers are being given stickers to display in their vehicles showing contact details of Wirral Council so that passengers can nominate their driver for an award or provide feedback on the service they’ve received.
The award is sponsored by the Road Safety Trust and winners will receive a trophy and a certificate as well as having their ‘Private Hire Driver’ License paid for 3 years. There will also be an opportunity to have some free sessions at the Council’s leisure facilities.
Nominations are welcome from members of the public, Private Hire Operators and Council Officers until 31st January, with the winners being announced in February 2020.
If you would like to nominate a driver, please visit our website.
licensed to chill
ARE YOU AND YOUR VEHICLES READY FOR WINTER?
Thursday 28th November 2019, 8.45am to 12.30pm Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, Slatey Road, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH43 4UE
Did you know driving for work is the most common work-related health and safety risk? If your business requires staff to drive as part of their work duties, then the latest session from Wirral’s Road Safety Team is for you and your drivers.
The seminar, funded by the Road Safety Trust, will be led by key speakers from the health and safety industry, road safety specialists, police and collision investigation experts.
The FREE session will provide vital information to help you: · Stay as safe as possible when driving during the winter season · Understand common risks around driving including drink driving and fatigue
To book a free place for the session please:
safer people in safer vehicles making safer journeys
Steve is a Vehicle Enforcement Manager for the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency who are an executive agency of the UK Department for Transport. Amongst many other things, Steve manages the staff that carry out roadside checks on drivers and vehicles covering the Merseyside & Cheshire areas.
Paul has many years’ experience Roads Policing Sergeant with Merseyside Police and currently works for Merseyside Road Safety Partnership. Paul is the lead for drink and drug education across Merseyside and trains officers throughout the UK on the process of roadside breath testing.
Andrew has overseen the investigation/analysis process for over 37,000 road traffic collisions. He provides safety & driver health education to local organisations.
Ian has been a fatigue risk management specialist for over 17 years working with governments and corporations across 5 continents in industries such as mining, haulage, rail, utilities, bus and coach. He is an accredited change management practitioner and is six-sigma trained. Ian is the CEO of Fatigue Management International.
08:45 – 09:10
Delegate arrival with tea and coffee provided
09:10 – 09:20
Welcome and Housekeeping
Paul Leatherbarrow – Road Safety Officer
09:20 – 10:10
Vehicle Safety & Compliance
Steve Lyons – DVSA
10:00 – 10:40
Drink & Drugs in the Workplace
Paul Mountford – Merseyside RS Partnership
10:40 – 10:50
10:50 – 11:30
11:30 – 12:10
It only takes a second
12:10 – 12:30
Summary with Q & A Session
12:30 – CLOSE
Lunch & Networking