Motorist, 40, hits out at 'over-zealous' speed watch volunteers

Motorist, 40, slams ‘aggressive and over-zealous’ community speed watch volunteers for ‘shouting’, leaning into his vehicle and asking ‘how do we known this car isn’t stolen’

  • Phil Dewhurst, 40, stopped by speed watch volunteers in Longburton, Dorset 
  • ‘Right off the bat they were aggressive and combative,’ said the musician
  • They clocked him for speeding at 39mph which Mr Dewhurst insists was wrong
  • He says he got a backlash after asking if their speed gun was calibrated properly
  • Mr Dewhurst claims his autistic stepson was ‘left distressed’ by the incident

A driver says he was ‘made to feel like a criminal’ by speed watch volunteers who he claims bellowed out at him as he passed through their village.

Phil Dewhurst, 40, insists he was abiding by the 30mph speed limit while driving through Longburton, near Sherborne in Dorset, on November 4 when he was stopped.

Three pensioners in hi-vis jackets with a clip board and speed gun allegedly demanded that he halt and apparently told him, ‘you are doing 39mph, slow down’.  

Mr Dewhurst, a professional musician, claims the speed watchers then ‘harangued’ him and allegedly subjected him to a 10 minute tirade, which he says distressed his autistic stepson who sat waiting in the car.

‘They seemed angry that I dared to stop to talk to them,’ said Mr Dewhurst, of Sherborne. ‘Right off the bat they were aggressive and combative with me and were talking over me.’ 

He said that one of the group even insinuated his Volvo estate car may have been stolen.

Phil Dewhurst, 40, has lodged a complaint against ‘over-zealous and aggressive’ community speed watch volunteers he claims leant into his car and shouted at him

‘I said I knew my speed was correct because I rely on my driving licence to do my work so I said maybe their gun might need calibrating.

‘The response I got was almost like a naughty schoolchild who was getting a tongue-lashing in the headmistress’ office.

‘It was totally unnecessary and very unprofessional. I need to lodge a complaint because I felt like I was being bullied.’ 

Mr Dewhurst says he had asked the group whether their speed gun was calibrated correctly because he knew the road well and was sure he had not speeded. 

A photo taken by Mr Dewhurst shows the bespectacled woman, wearing a distinctive top hat, leaning into the car window prodding a clipboard in his direction

A photo taken by him shows a bespectacled woman, who was wearing a distinctive top hat, leaning into the car window prodding a clipboard in his direction.

The two white-haired men can be seen stood either side of her.

Mr Dewhurst added: ‘There was a change in speed limit at the top of the hill just as you drop into the village into a 30mph, which I have driven hundreds, maybe even thousands, of times.

‘I slowed down to 30 and was driving through the village and the speedwatch was on the left.

‘One of them pointed a gun at me and then started shouting at me. They bellowed out my registration number and shouted out “you are doing 39mph, slow down”.

‘I thought that was a bit bizarre, so I stopped and reversed back to have a chat with them. I said I understood they were there for a purpose but I didn’t think it was fair to be bellowing out at people and publicly shaming them.

‘It was a 10 minute tirade and I was made to feel like a criminal. At one stage, one of them said “how do we know this car isn’t stolen”.

‘They didn’t show me any accreditation or give me their names. They just told me they were working for the police.

‘I’m a confident and experienced driver but if you were younger or a more nervous driver having someone bellowing at me from the side of the road would be quite a distraction. The whole debacle was unnecessary.’

Mr Dewhurst said one of the group ‘bellowed’ out his registration number and then added: ‘you are doing 39mph, slow down!’

The incident took place as Mr Dewhurst drove with his stepson through the picture postcard village of Longburton, close to his home in Sherborne, Dorset

The speed limit outside Longburton is set at 40 miles per hour but then reduces to 30mph at the top of a hill just before entering the village

Mr Dewhurst said his stepson was left feeling distressed by the incident as he doesn’t handle confrontation very well.

He added: ‘From what I gather from people I have spoken to about community speed watch, they have basic training from the police… I totally understand the purpose of them and I’m not anti the idea if it’s done properly but I think aggression is unnecessary.’

A Dorset Police spokesperson said: ‘The community speed watch team at Longburton has recently been set up and received training from a police community support officer last month.

‘They have reported this incident to us through the proper channels and the group co-ordinator will be speaking with them to obtain further details of what took place.

‘We are unable to comment any further at this time.’

Regarding the Community Speed Watch scheme, they added: ‘Community speed watch is the communities own response to this, and provides a visible reminder to drivers to reduce their speed, by first acting as a deterrent and secondly and more importantly to educate motorists of the need to slow down and drive within the limits set.

‘To do this, advisory letters are sent to anyone recorded exceeding the limit. The speed and vehicle details are fed back to Dorset Police who identify the vehicles registered keeper details and who then arrange for advisory letters to be sent out.

‘At no time do the CSW volunteers have access to personal details of the driver or registered keeper.

‘Community speed watch teams are local residents who are concerned about speeding in their communities and who wish to do something about it.

‘Working with the residents Dorset Police provide all the required training and equipment which includes a radar speed detector, to enable the teams to conduct their own monitoring, as well as well as helping to identify sites where it is safe to do so.

‘Teams will decide which roads they want to monitor but sites must first be risk assessed by an officer of Dorset Police for safety.’ 

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