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Police urge motorists, cyclists and horse riders to send footage to help catch drivers who use phones behind the wheel

PUBLISHED: 12:07 10 July 2017 | UPDATED: 08:57 11 July 2017

Police on Newmarket Road during Operation Ringtone. Picture Peter Walsh.

Police on Newmarket Road during Operation Ringtone. Picture Peter Walsh.

Archant

Motorists, cyclists - and even horse riders - are being urged to help snare drivers who use their phones behind the wheel by sending police their camera footage.

A new reporting form on the Norfolk police website means members of the public can now submit dash-cam footage to support the fight against those breaking the law.

Police have been accepting footage caught by motorists - as well as video from cyclists or even horse riders from their helmet cameras - since May.

Figures released by police show that in June dash-cam footage supplied by members of the public resulted in 33 prosecutions for motoring offences and 15 warning letters being issued.

There were also eight further cases that were sent to local policing teams for words of advice to be issued.

Chief Inspector Kris Barnard, head of the Norfolk and Suffolk Roads Policing and Firearms Operations Unit, said the public can play a key part in changing the mind-set of people and making this offence socially unacceptable.

He said: “We all witness it, momentary glances looking down at a phone or the more blatant offender seen holding and talking on their phone. The key thing to remember here is that while you’re behind the wheel you are in charge of a machine, a machine which can seriously injure and even kill people if you’re not in proper control.

“If you take your eyes off the road for just three seconds when doing 70mph you will travel further than the length of a football pitch. Ask yourself, what could happen in that time?

“We are doing everything within our power to stop offenders and hopefully prevent serious or fatal collisions. However, with the help of the public, submitting footage and supporting our investigations, we will be able to hold more lawbreakers to account.”

The appeal for dash-cam footage comes at the start of a week-long campaign, called Operation Ringtone, focusing efforts to tackle drivers using mobile phones, officers are appealing to the public to help identify offenders.

The operation, which runs until July 16, will see officers patrolling the roads with marked and unmarked cars and motorcycles, all fitted with cameras to obtain evidence to help secure successful prosecutions.

Officers were out on Newmarket Road in Norwich on Monday as part of a rush hour crackdown.

Plain clothes police “spotters” looked for motorists on their phones, or committing other motoring offences, then passed on details to colleagues who pulled over the offending vehicles.

In an hour and a half officers pulled over three motorists, including one who was texting with the phone on their laps.

A 40-year-old motorist who was stopped for using his phone behind the wheel, but did not want to be named, said: “I was checking my sat nav which is on my phone.”

He said it was the first time he had been caught for the offence. But despite falling foul of the law, he said he had no complaints.

He said: “I agree with it.”

Drivers found to be on their phones now get six points on their licence and a £200 fine following the introduction of harsher penalties in March this year.

Lorne Green, Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner, said: “Under our #Impact umbrella we are keen to drive home the message to young people how irresponsible it is to use a mobile phone while driving.

“There are however no age barriers to such an offence with few people claiming never to have seen someone texting or talking while driving. A momentary lapse in concentration can lead to disastrous consequences and I fully support the call for members of the public to go that extra mile by submitting dash cam footage to our officers in a bid to catch those intent on breaking the law.”


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