Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Reporter Sarah Howells joined the team at Bideford for a morning of traffic operations and a blown over lorry on the Torridge Bridge.
FROM a blown over lorry to parking disputes, a day in the life of a Bideford police officer is certainly anything from quiet.
I joined the team on Wednesday as they took part in an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) operation around the town.
The camera-equipped vehicle picks up registration plates of vehicles and checks them against the police data base for offences such as no insurance or no car tax.
My day began at 7am with PC Dave Simpson at the helm, sweeping the town and picking up a few cases such as a man driving a trailer with two registration plates.
This was followed by some speed gun action on Manteo Way, a ‘hot spot’ during the school run, where one motorist got a ticket for speeding at 56mph in the 30mph zone.
“This time of day is particular dangerous for people speeding, when you can see all the children on the school run at the side of the road,” said PC Simpson.
“We try and conduct monthly speed checks in areas such as Manteo Way, where members of the public have reported problems to us.”
The team caught a few more motorists speeding, before the heavy rain settled in and the units separated out to various calls that had come in.
PC Simpson and I made our way to Union Close, where a lorry which had delivered materials to a construction site had become trapped by parked cars.
We made enquiries over the radio to find the registered keepers’ details, eventually locating the owner of one after knocking on several doors around the area
But no sooner is that case solved than another began, with reports coming in over the radio of a person ‘slumped in the corner’ of Bideford football ground.
A quick case of the joint discovered the ‘person’ was in fact a sleeping bag and the well-wisher who had called in had thought it was a man who had been sleeping rough there.
As the winds began to whip up, a call came through the radio of a lorry blown over by the 50mph gusts on the Torridge Bridge and it was all systems go.
Traffic through the town was building and we arrived at the scene hot to find recovery crews trying to right the vehicle.
It was a precarious situation – the wind was so strong I could barely keep my feet on the ground and the rescue teams had a job of trying to pull the vehicle upright.
Progress was slow and steady, but eventually once the vehicle was upright the team managed to back the recovery lorry off the bridge with the van in tow.
As for the traffic operation, Sergeant Richard McSweeney, who was leading the team, said it had been a success.
Seven drivers were issued tickets, 30 issued warnings, one vehicle was seized and two drivers issued warning noticed for antisocial behaviour.
Sgt McSweeney added: “The results are generally pleasing as it shows that most motorists are extremely law abiding, but we would urge drivers to be conscious of their speed in urban areas as this was by far the largest area in which tickets and warnings were issued.”