Crossing patrols armed with cameras in fight against bad drivers

West Sussex County Council is encouraging schools to equip their crossing patrol with chest cameras to deter dangerous drivers.

Lollipop lady Carol Jannaway with her new camera. Picture: Derek Martin
Lollipop lady Carol Jannaway with her new camera. Picture: Derek Martin

White Meadows Primary Academy in Whitelea Road, Wick, is the first school in the south of the county to adopt the initiative, which is being run by West Sussex County Council.

The cameras are worn across the chest and capture audio and video footage of motorists, so instances of dangerous driving or abuse can be reported to the police.

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According to the council, trials at four primary schools in Billingshurst, Haywards Heath and Haslemere have proved successful.

Lollipop lady Carol Jannaway helping White Meadows Primary Academy pupils cross Wick Street. Left to right: Fletcher Newell, 10, Poppy Foster, seven, Frank Smith, nine and Aimee Green, nine.

Carol Jannaway has been part of White Meadows Primary Academy’s crossing patrol for two years.

She said: “It makes me feel a little bit more safe knowing that if something does happen I have visual proof I can go to the police with, but hopefully it will make people think before they do anything.”

Based at Wick Street, she helps all members of the public to cross the busy road.

She said drivers have been abusive, including two male motorists who wound down their windows and shouted at her while she was helping people to cross.

The chest camera is part of a West Sussex County Council initiative

The Littlehampton resident is also faced with cars not stopping when she is in the middle of the road. She said: “They think they own the roads. Sometimes when they come speeding across, you think – what was the point?

“All the children and parents that come down here are lovely, and that’s why I’m here – to help them get across safely.”

Each camera costs the school £150 to buy through the county council.

Deputy headteacher Rebecca Misselbrook said before Carol the school struggled to recruit crossing patrollers: “We lost a lot of people who resigned because they felt too at risk and their families were too worried about their safety.

“We have a duty of care for our staff and children, and we have had a few near misses, people speeding and nearly hitting Carol, and we needed to do something about it.”

Year Three pupil Poppy Foster, seven, thought the cameras were ‘a good idea’: “Sometimes when I ride my bike I can get cross with people who are not doing the right thing on the road.”

Ten-year-old Fletcher Newell from Year Six said they would be ‘useful’: “If cars come zooming by, they can record the number plate so they can get told off and maybe a fine.”

Louise Bishop is the county council’s school crossing patrol manager, and has been leading the project since its inception a year ago.

She said she was ‘so excited’ about White Meadow Primary Academy’s decision to join the scheme: “I’m so pleased with how it has gone and the difference it is making. It is to protect our patrols: they come out in all sorts of weather to help our children to cross properly and to get this abuse is just not right.”

As well as recording abusive behaviour, the cameras are used to capture moments of dangerous driving.

When motorists drive past a patroller when they are in the road, it is an offence.

If caught, drivers will receive a fine and three points on their licence, which is the same as they would receive for driving through a red light.

The camera records every shift a lollipop person works. If footage is captured of an offence, it is passed onto Sussex Police to consider as evidence for prosecution. If nothing of note happens, the memory card is wiped at the end of each patrol by a county council employee as a safeguarding measure.

The county council will also be putting up temporary signs outside schools involved warning offending motorists they are on camera.

To join the initiative, email Louise at [email protected]