Keele criminologist’s research used to develop key messages for national policing campaign

A criminologist specialising in how Britain’s roads are policed has urged drivers to think carefully about their behaviour when getting behind the wheel as a new anti-speeding campaign is launched.

Today (18 May) sees the launch of the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) speed enforcement operation, a two-phase campaign which aims to educate motorists about the dangers of driving over the speed limit.

This operation is deliberately timed as travel restrictions start to ease across the UK, to keep people safe as the volume of traffic increases, and to coincide with this Dr Helen Wells, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Keele University and Director of the Roads Policing Academic Network, has sought to remind drivers of the dangers of speeding.

Dr Wells has made a significant contribution to the communications campaign behind the operation, including writing 30 research-informed tweets for police forces and partner organisations to use during the operation.

As lockdown restrictions are gradually relaxed across the UK, police forces throughout the country will be taking part in the two phase operation to remind motorists of the importance of travelling within the speed limit.

In phase one from today, forces will be sharing messages across social media and other platforms encouraging the public to slow down and save lives, in addition to normal speed enforcement activity.

Phase two (from 25 May) will see forces step up visible speed enforcement activity for the following two weeks, focusing on roads and areas where speeding is known to be an issue or there is a history of serious collisions.

Dr Wells, who is currently researching the impact of lockdown on UK roads, said: “On the one hand during the Covid-19 lockdown, we appear to be seeing an increased respect for life, and for NHS resources, whilst on the other hand we are seeing some reports of a rise in dangerous behaviour that appears to directly contradict that.

“The current situation has given us a fascinating glimpse of what speeds some drivers will choose to drive at when roads are quieter, and shows how important roads policing is in deterring dangerous driving

“If we, as drivers, want to see ourselves as part of the fight and not part of the problem, we all need to think about our driving behaviour now and after lockdown and make sure we don’t survive coronavirus only to become a different kind of statistic.”