Airborne speed camera over Essex

PUBLISHED: 18:42 27 August 2008 | UPDATED: 07:04 30 May 2010

A NEW eye in the sky initiative has been met with criticism from residents concerned that tax payers money is being wasted. The Essex County Council-led scheme involves the Essex and Kent police helicopter prowling the skies above the Dunmow area to mo

A NEW 'eye in the sky' initiative has been met with criticism from residents concerned that tax payers' money is being wasted.

The Essex County Council-led scheme involves the Essex and Kent police helicopter prowling the skies above the Dunmow area to monitor speeding motorists using state-of-the-art number plate recognition.

Twenty-six signs have been put up on the B184, B1012, and B1057 in places that have been designated as 'high risk accident areas'.

Essex Police have welcomed the idea and have said that they will be using the helicopter mainly to target motorcyclists.

Senior Traffic Management Officer Adam Pipe said: "Use of the force helicopter will enable officers to obtain video evidence of offences including excess speed.

"Our focus remains on reducing the number of casualties and there is concern that a small number of riders continue to use Essex roads with total disregard for not only their own safety but those of other road users, and continue to flout a wide range of traffic legislation and inappropriate rider behaviour."

The new and distinctive blue signs have alerted residents, and some think the idea is a waste of time and money. Paul Hockley, from Godfrey Way said: "It just shows the county council has lost the plot and it seems to me that they have no common sense whatsoever. We turn the lights off at night to save money, and I bet this is how they fund the helicopter.

"At the cost of running the helicopter per hour I am sure we could put more police on the streets and in cars driving all over Essex.

"Over the weekend all we have heard in the sky is a helicopter. We already get enough noise from the planes at Stansted airport. We do not need to add any more noise."

Essex police say that it will in-fact maximise the use of the helicopter as it will be scouting the skies on the way back from other callouts.

Norman Hume, chairman of the Essex Casualty Reduction Board, who came up with the hi-tech plan, said: "We are seeing accidents in Essex dramatically reduced as a result of our intervention and education campaign but we need to make more of an impact on motorcycle accidents.

"There is a perception that it is easier for them to evade detection of offences because of the speed at which they travel.

"We feel that signs warning of the likelihood of detection from the air will be an extra incentive to motorcyclists, and all other motorists, to drive safely and help us to reduce accidents further."

We want your opinions on this story. E-mail us at nick.thompson@archant.co.uk or write to us at 2 Angel Lane, Great Dunmow, Essex, CM6 1AQ.

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