Police have a new secret weapon, a huge speed camera capable of filming people up to a thousand metres away.
Dubbed “The Long Ranger”, the massive speed gun will launch as part of a pilot project called Operation Indemnis, and will be deployed to catch motoring offences such as speeding and tailgating.
”We now have a chance to test a new model of collaborative road policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere”
Technology up to now has been used to detect how fast drivers are going, but the new camera produces clear video footage as well as photos clear enough to see who, exactly, is behind the wheel.
Long lens capable of identifying drivers
Martin Surl, police and crime commissioner for Gloucestershire, where the kit is being tested, said he hoped that the long lens would also help police spot motorists using mobile phones.
The project takes a new collaborative approach to the policing of the A417 and A419 – a major strategic route linking Gloucestershire and Wiltshire – as well as the M4 and M5.
At peak times, the road network carries an estimated 35,000 vehicles day and has become an accident hotspot.
Officers will use the long-distance camera and automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) to check on what vehicles are on the roads and how they are being driven.
Police said the main aim was to educate people about how to drive more safely and to prevent accidents that can kill or seriously injure people. Some drivers caught out will be given advice about their driving, but those found to be committing offences will be punished.
The operation was launched in a lay-by on the A417 known as “Granny’s Pumps”, which is between Cirencester Cheltenham. If the pilot proves successful, the large cameras could be rolled out nationwide.
Mr Surl said: “This is one of the county’s busiest roads which also has one of the worst accident records due to the way it’s used.
“Many people have come to me with their concerns about speeding and other safety issues along this road.
”We now have a chance to test a new model of collaborative road policing which, if it proves a success, can be put into practice elsewhere.
“The aim is not just to penalise motorists but to uphold the law by creating a change in people’s behaviour. But the police will enforce the law when necessary.”
Chief Inspector Mark Soderland said: “A core aim of the approach is collaborating wherever possible with other road safety stakeholders.”
The team has started with Highways England and the county council and is now approaching groups such as the Motor Insurers Bureau, The Institute of Advanced Motorists and the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority to explore what opportunities there might be to work together and improve safety.