Officers from the Neighbourhood Police Team at Newton Aycliffe, supported by local councillors and MP Paul Howells office, officers from the Licensing department and parking enforcement at Durham County Council, the Police Road Policing Unit and the Operation Endurance Team (target off road vehicles), held a week long Road Safety Week in Newton Aycliffe from the 14th September 2020. This was primarily to raise awareness around issues that inconsiderate parking and speeding in areas near junior schools cause and the risk posed to pupils and local residents. Officers were present at most junior schools every day to engage and educate drivers, but to also robustly tackle persistent offenders who would not listen to advice. In the main, most drivers were adhering to the yellow lines outside of the schools, but others didn’t seem to grasp the importance of why they exist, these drivers were given fixed penalty tickets. Staggered starts to the school day seem to have helped ease traffic flow and school staff have been liaised with to see if this could be continued post-COVID.
Whilst the kids were in school, officers looked at other road related issues across the town which have been highlighted in recent iPACT meetings. Community Speedwatch was carried out in multiple areas across the town each day, drivers caught in the main were sent warning/advisory notices, others driving excessively fast were issued with fixed penalty notices. It was found that those driving over the specified speed limits varied from area to area, ranging from 7-20%. We also targeted the anti-social use of off-road bikes and quads with the assistance of our Off Road bike team (Operation Endurance), a number of warning notices were given out, one warning and the bikes are seized. Working with DCC Licensing we targeted waste and scrap collectors and the Road Policing Unit proactively targeted drivers that were disqualified, driving with no documents, or in un-roadworthy vehicles.
In a previous Road Safety Week, the schools themselves (including the Mini Police) were heavily involved in promoting and participating in this initiative, however due to COVID restrictions, their involvement this time was more minimal. Was great to see how teachers and heads are promoting safety and social distancing though.
On the second day of the Safety week, due to information from a parent at one of the schools, a male person from the Darlington area was arrested and stolen property recovered. This male was later charged with Burglary (of a shed), Vehicle Interference, Theft of a Pedal Cycle and Criminal Damage, and given bail conditions to stay out of Newton Aycliffe and to observe a curfew. He awaits his day in court.
The week was a very positive one, lots of engagement with parents, teachers, and school pupils (at a distance of course). Drivers spoken to, warned and some issued with tickets, riders causing Anti Social Behaviour on bikes and quads were given warning notices, and other drivers were given tickets for speeding and vehicle defects.
The fight against ASB in relation to off-road bikes and quads goes on, there are many tactics that we are employing going forward, and we are determined to reduce this issue.