Speed Watch Q&As

True or false.

During a recent Speed Watch operation the CSW team were approached by a driver who made the following statements. This confirmed that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding out there in terms of how CSW operate.

Below are some of the answers to some of the questions;

1. You are not authorised to do this are you?

False: The Chief Constable of Dorset Police has given his authority for Community Speed Watch teams to operate. Dorset Police oversee the scheme with officers working closely with the teams.

2. You are pretending to be Police Officers!

False: Community Speed Watch is a joint initiative run between the Police and members of the community but CSW volunteers have no powers of enforcement. The purpose of CSW is to support Dorset Police in raising awareness of the need to reduce speed.

3. You wear Hi-vis jackets to look like the Police?

False: The Hi-vis jackets are worn to make sure that CSW volunteers are highly visible to the driving public, both for their safety being stood at the roadside and that of other road users. The jackets have Community Speed Watch printed on them to avoid any confusion regarding the role.

4. CSW teams have means of personal identification?

False: But each CSW team has been issued with an ID sized printed card confirming that they are authorised as a team registered with Dorset Police.

5. You are a cash cow for the Police!

False: CSW operate to raise awareness of speed limits, to educate and inform. CSW does not have any powers of enforcement, the letters sent by Dorset Police as a result of CSW monitoring are advisory and do not impose any financial penalty. Additionally CSW volunteers themselves do not receive any payment for assisting the Police in monitoring traffic speeds.

6. You are Policing on the cheap!

False: With over 4000 miles of roads in Dorset,and even if Police numbers were increased they could not operate in the same way, as flexibly or as often, as CSW teams in carrying out roadside operations. CSW volunteers are themselves local residents who’s interest is in making their residential roads safe for all road users. This is particularly relevant in our rural villages where police numbers are greatly reduced.

7. I was only doing 30 mph when I passed you!

That may be true or false: The detector the teams use will have been used to record a drivers’ speed long before the vehicle passes the team. Experience shows that on seeing any form of speed monitoring a driver will automatically slow, hence it is entirely possible that by the time the speed is checked by the driver the required speed limit will have been achieved. CSW only record the speed displayed on the device at the time when the device is operated.

8. What information do you gather?

Speed, registration number, make, model, colour and time observed.

9. What roads can you operate on?

Roads that residents and/or the Police have identified as being affected by speeding vehicles. All sites have to be risk assessed by Dorset Police and approved for CSW operations before they can be used.

10. You can set up and operate on any road?

False: Only roads with speed limits of 20, 30 or 40 mph, and only those roads approved by Dorset Police for CSW operations.

11. What speeds do you record?

The speed limit plus 10% + 2 mph i.e. 25mph and above in a 20mph zone, 36mph and above in a 30 mph zone, 47 and above in a 40mph zone.

12. What do you do with the information you gather?

All the information recorded by the CSW team is passed to Dorset Police for their action as appropriate.

13. Your speed gun records images?

False: Speed measurement devices use by CSW do not record any information. They only display the speed of the vehicle being monitored to the operator when the device is operated.

14. Your speed gun is inaccurate!

False: CSW use radar devices that are pre-calibrated, most are relatively simple devices that do not need recalibration, however they can be checked for accuracy either by using a tuning fork, or periodically teams have their devices checked against a laser camera operated by a member of Police staff.

15. The Police use the information you provide to penalise motorists and motorcyclists?

False: In normal circumstances the Police will issue an advisory letter to the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned. Should a driver not heed the advice being given to drive within the advertised limit and be recorded a second time, another letter will be sent. This time the letter will repeat the advice given in the first letter but will also advise the driver that if seen exceeding the speed limit on a third occasion then they will receive a visit from a Police Officer or Police Community Support Office to speak to them about their driving behaviour.

A driver who chooses to ignore the warning letters and continues to be recorded by teams, or drivers whose speed is considered excessive will have their details passed to the No Excuse Roads Policing Team and may then receive a letter from or visit from that team.

16. The Police will prosecute on the basis of the information CSW teams provide?

False: No road user, driver or motorcyclist has ever been prosecuted solely on information provided by CSW.

17. Anyone could do your job?

False: All CSW volunteers are assessed and trained, to ensure that they are suitable for a CSW role, prior to being allowed to operate at the roadside

18. CSW teams do not receive training?

False: All CSW team members are trained by a member of Dorset Police before being allowed to operate.

19. CSW teams are supervised and checked to see they are operating to the required standards?

True: all CSW teams regularly receive ‘spot checks’ to ensure that they are operating as intended and required. CSW speed detectors are regularly checked to confirm accuracy.

20. Police Officers sometimes work alongside you?

True: On occasions a Police Officer or a member of Police staff will attend to carry out speed enforcement from a Speed Watch location alongside CSW volunteers. These sessions may, as a result of the officer recording speeds using a laser camera approved for this purpose, result in drivers receiving a Notice of Intended Prosecution.

On other occasions CSW may be deployed as part of wider Police Speed reduction initiatives.

21. Did you volunteer to do this?

Yes. CSW team members are all volunteers drawn from the local community. They volunteered to join CSW following a request from Dorset Police to set up a CSW team. This in response to growing complaints from residents about antisocial speeding on some of the roads in and around our village.

22. Have you not got better things to do?

Yes. But volunteering to do something that improves the safety and welfare of our residents is a worthwhile cause. Speeding is one of the issues most commonly raised by local people. Speeding is an offence and a contributory factor in many accidents, some unfortunately resulting in serious injury or death. This can have a lasting impact on all those involved, but this also includes the local tax payer with the average cost of a fatality costing in the region of 2.2million pounds.

23. If I was interested in CSW how would I go about joining?

There are a number of ways to do this;

Firstly, go on-line to the Dorset Police website and complete an application form.

Contact your Neighbourhood Policing team (NPT)

Go on-line and see if your Community Speed team has a website such as www.broadstone csw.uk or a Facebook page.

Talk to your CSW team at the roadside.

Call the Dorset police non-emergency helpline 101 and ask for advice.

I Want to set up a Community Speed Watch team

Community Speed Watch was introduced into Dorset in 2013. CSW is fully and wholly supported by the Chief Constable for Dorset, and by the Police & Crime Commissioner. There are more than 85 CSW teams operating across the County.

In order to set up a Community Speed Watch you should first consider contacting one or more of the following;-

  • Dorset Police – The Police will provide you with guidance on setting up a Community Speed watch. They will also be involved in interviewing potential volunteers, and they will carry our Risk assessments on the roads you propose to monitor to ensure they are suitable for CSW operations. Police Officers will also be responsible for delivering roadside training before the CSW team will be allowed to operate without supervision.
  • ADW – The Association of Dorset Watches have a member of their executive committee dedicated to Community Speed Watch.
  • NBW – Neighbourhood Watch/Home Watch may offer advice, support and assistance. Many existing CSW teams are comprised of volunteers recruited from Neighbourhood /Home watch groups.
  • Councils/Parish councils – these may be a source of funding for the setting up of Community Speed watch teams. If not then some form of fund raising will be required as the cost of equipment required in setting up a team will be in the region of £300.
  • CSW – Another, already established, CSW team in a neighbouring area may give advice, guidance and support. They may even invite you along to a CSW operation as an observer to see what is entailed


  • To set up a Community Speed watch you will need to recruit no less than six willing volunteers, all of whom must be fit and well – able to stand at the roadside for up to 1 hour or more, and able to read a standard vehicle number plate at a distance of 20 metres in good daylight (including with glasses or corrective lenses).
  • All volunteers will need to be interviewed by a Police Officer to confirm that they are suitable for CSW operations/duties.
  • One of the volunteers must be willing to act as the Coordinator.
  • The Coordinator will be responsible for ensuring that CSW operations are properly organised and conducted, and that the policies, procedures and guidelines laid down by Dorset Police are adhered to.


The minimum equipment required to mount a CSW operation is as follows

  • 1 x Bushnell Radar device
  • 6 x Hi-visibility jackets
  • 1 x Counter
  •  1 x Dictaphone / pen and paper

To get you started Dorset Police may initially loan you a Bushnell device, but if you wish to continue you will be invited to purchase such a device.

Approved Roads

  • All roads, proposed for CSW operations, must be Risk Assessed and approved by Dorset Police before any CSW operations may take place. Once the Risk Assessments have been completed a list of those roads approved for CSW operations will be issued, and each road will be allocated a DPN identification number together with the precise locations where CSW teams must operate.

CSW Operations

  • CSW operations normally last one hour, but this timing may be reduced or extended by the Coordinator and as agreed with the other volunteers.
  • CSW operations can only be mounted in daylight hours when visibility is good.
  • CSW operations may not be mounted when visibility is poor, when it is foggy/misty, when it is raining or when there is a lot of surface standing water.
  • There is no minimum or maximum regarding the numbers of CSW operations that a team must mount.

Organisation and reporting

Once operational the CSW team will be issued with a specific Niche reference number. This number to assist in Watch identification and for use in reporting and communications with Dorset Police.

The organising and reporting of CSW operations will normally be the responsibility of the Coordinator. In most CSW team this is done by way a computer with an internet connection.

In order to mount a CSW operation the Coordinator will need to

  1. Consider the weather forecast
  2. Identify the road to be monitored.
  3. Select the volunteers for the CSW operation
  4. Provide Dorset Police with required details – date, Location, time, Volunteers etc

On completion of the operation the coordinator will be required to complete a standard form which will include relevant details of the vehicles observed and recorded during the CSW operation.

Specimen forms for use in the CSW process will be provided to ensure that that the workload is kept to a minimum, and that the presentation is consistent.

Fund raising

In the current financial climate Councils, Parish Councils etc do not have money to spare, and it is therefore likely that Communities that wish to set up a CSW team may struggle to raise funds. It may be worth noting that most large companies, Lottery organisations, Supermarkets etc have ‘community Funds and many now consider the CSW is a worthy cause. In 2017 Tesco awarded a CSW team £2000. The answer is ‘DON’T BE SHY!’. If you don’t ask you don’t get!