Citizen Spies a Global Phenomenon | February 23, 2005

"Just yesterday we posted the story, "Hey Citizen Spies, The Latest Hottest Class is Public, Free and Big Brother Expects Your Participation."

Now we read this BBC story about the citizens of Sussex, armed with police-issued radar guns patrolling their neighboorhood in shifts and documenting speeding motorists.

Like all propaganda, the article gently demonstrates how necessary it is for the civilian spies to be on patrol -- and look How cute the little old ladies are in their yellow vests...

Good thing these volunteer spies took their anger management course from the loving Police State they worship. Otherwise, those bad lawbreakers might really have them down...

This is deadly serious. All around the world Stasi-style civilian spy corps are popping up to help Big Brother keep watch." -Alex Jones

The unlikely traffic cops

BBC News| February 21, 2005
By Tom Geoghegan

Villagers in Sussex are so exasperated by speeding motorists they are catching them themselves.

Sixty-nine-year-old Pearl raises her shooting arm, takes aim and pulls the trigger.

"Forty-one. Get him, Jean," she says.

The Peugeot is about 100 yards away and slows down as the pair's yellow jackets come into view.

But it's too late and her colleague scribbles down the number plate as it passes, unaware of the stony-faced stare from the driver.

After speed humps, cameras and sleeping policemen, this is the latest initiative to try to curb fast drivers and it could soon be operating on a street near you. After all, it doesn't cost a penny.

Twenty-two volunteers in the West Sussex villages of West Hoathly and Sharpthorne have been trained and equipped by police to report on drivers travelling above 37mph. Offenders get a ticking off from police but cannot be prosecuted based purely on this data.

Pearl and Jean have braved a bitterly cold morning to do their weekly, hour-long shift on their own street, which they say has become a rat-run for drivers trying to avoid East Grinstead.

Paperboy-free zone

Pointing at her fence, which resembles a defeated Formula One crash barrier, Jean says until East Grinstead gets a by-pass, the risk of someone being killed in West Hoathly will remain high.

Waiting for a break in the traffic to cross what is essentially a village street can take a few minutes, and Jean's fears are shared by others.

If they get used to the fact people in yellow jackets have speed guns, they might think twice about speeding through a lovely part of Sussex
Sue Williams
Shop owner
"I've lived here for 70 years and it's changed beyond all recognition," says villager David Knight. "Ducks used to walk up the main road, it was just a country lane and it was treated like a country lane.

"You can't blame the people using it, but I wish they would have some consideration.

"You can't have papers delivered because no parents are idiot enough to have their children deliver them down this road. We have no pavement and it's a death-trap walking out of the house."

Despite these frustrations, the volunteers say they are not anti-motorist and the point of the exercise is to deter high speed rather than catch people.

Some drivers smile or wave and most take it in good spirits, says Jean, although other volunteers have experienced minor abuse.

One man in a white van does a U-turn and, clearly puzzled by the appearance of who has clocked him, pulls up to ask them what it is all about.

After a minute of Jean's charm - the anger management lesson from Sussex Police was hardly needed for this pupil - he apologises for going too fast and admits his own village could do with some self-policing of its own.

To find the willing hands for such a project requires a strong sense of community spirit and that's as abundant in West Hoathly as the stunning views of the South Downs.

One elderly passer-by, who approaches to say what a difference the initiative is already making, leaves with a lift to the shops arranged for later in the week.

'Neighbour v neighbour'

No such charity for the 11 drivers Pearl and Jean note in their hour. The top speed is 42mph, which is 12mph slower than one caught in the project's first two weeks.

But is the village's non-volunteer community as enthusiastic about its new quasi traffic cops? A debate on that very subject soon ensues in the village shop.

There are five to 10 accidents a month, says Sue Williams, who runs Hilltop Store.

"This is a start - and it's a good start - but I don't think it's going to solve the problem. When people drive through the village, if they get used to the fact people in yellow jackets have speed guns, they might think twice about speeding through a lovely part of Sussex."

The ones that crash aren't local people, says Richard Harber, 20, who also supports the scheme and doubts if a by-pass will ever happen.

But not everyone is in favour. "I'm against it because it sets neighbour against neighbour," says Suzan Johnstone, 48, who has lived here nearly 30 years.

"I know someone who's been caught twice and I think it makes people fall out with each other. If you were my neighbour and you caught me three times I would fall out with you.

"I don't want it to end with a brick through someone's window."


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