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Forces joined in modern-day fight against road crime

In her latest blog, Alison talks about Operation Snap and working together to make our roads safer

When Devon and Cornwall Police launched Op Snap in 2019, I was convinced it was bringing together two of the most powerful tools we have in the fight against crime – new technology and the public.

Operation Snap is a secure online system which allows members of the public to upload video and photographs that the police can use as evidence relating to driving incidents they have witnessed.

Offences such as dangerous driving, driving without due care and attention, careless driving, using a mobile phone handheld, not wearing a seat belt, running a red traffic light or crossing solid white lines are just some of the offences that can be looked at by officers once uploaded.

As the national road safety lead for the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, last year I managed to secure £100,000 from the Department for Transport to roll the programme out across 12 forces in England and Wales.

I know that there are thousands of motorists, cyclists and riders out there who are sick of having their lives and the lives of others put at risk by dangerous driving and I’m delighted that they can now play a fuller part in bringing dangerous drivers to book.

We have the largest police force area in England, and although we’re increasing police officer numbers as fast as we can, our officers can’t be everywhere.

So, when Op Snap went live in June 2019 it was a great example of new technology helping the police to bring people to justice and quite literally saving people’s lives.

Now, a year on, the police have published figures that show just how effective Op Snap has been and how it is really helping us work towards Vision Zero - which I have signed up to alongside other partner agencies and aims to reduce those killed on our roads by 50% by 2030.

The figures show there was a positive outcome in around 55% of all cases where footage was submitted – that’s a total of 361 cases meaning almost every day someone in Devon and Cornwall gets a driving sanction thanks to Op Snap.

There were 165 warning letters, 22 cases going to court, 79 fixed penalties accepted, 119 driver offender courses attended and another 40 booked and 15 fitness to drive courses taken.

The number of people killed and seriously injured on our roads is unacceptable and needs drastically reducing through more enforcement of road traffic laws and increased partnership working.

As I said earlier, the police can only be in so many places at any one time so other road users have become our eyes and ears and it makes absolute sense for the police to use good video evidence of poor driving and bring people to justice when appropriate.

When people realise that ANYONE could be gathering evidence of their dangerous driving, when they get behind the wheel our roads will be that much safer.

You can find more information about Op Snap here:

By working together as a community, we can change peoples’ driving behaviours and save lives.

And often a relatively small investment can have a significant impact on changing people’s behaviour and keeping people safe.

Earlier this year I made £25,000 available through the Cornwall Community Foundation which resulted in six organisations being given grants of between £660 and £5,000.

Friends of Connor Downs Academy, Devon and Cornwall Community Watch Association, Poltair Residents Association, Cornwall Life Recycle, St Austell Library Support Association and Godolphin Cross Community Association all submitted bids for projects which improve road safety and make the roads where they live safer.

I look forward to hearing how successful they have been later in the year.

My work to help make our roads safer continues and later this week I will be joining police and crime commissioners across the country to help clarion a nationwide call for safer roads.

The Government is currently calling for evidence of what the public expects from its police in relation to roads policing.

And for the first time PCCs are coming together to launch a nationwide poll so that together they can present a truly national submission to the Department for Transport.

There is evidence that local communities support more road law enforcement and higher fines for those who flout the laws, provided those communities get something back in the form of more enforcement and therefore safer roads.

I understand that increasing fines is not popular with ministers, but I feel this is a good opportunity for PCCs to represent the feelings of their constituents to ministers on this important topic.

I also think that more enforcement will act as a greater deterrent against dangerous driver behaviour and ensure perpetrators are the ones penalised for their actions through fines, so the general public is not taxed more heavily to enhance police enforcement or road safety.

But more enforcement on our roads, such as greater use of automatic number plate recognition, will also have a positive effect on criminality in a wider sense.

Our road network is used extensively by criminals and greater monitoring will lead to more intelligence surrounding their movements and more chance to disrupt them.

The poll will be launched in the next day or so – so keep your eyes open for it and please take part.

 Alison Hernandez