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.
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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!