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Hampshire police target speeding drivers near Hatchet Pond during the launch of Project Edward road safety partnership

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POLICE were out in force this morning (Wednesday) targeting speeding motorists with static and mobile cameras as part of a new safety drive.

Hampshire Constabulary officers were based at a road near Hatchet Pond, which has a 40mph limit, for more than two hours. They pulled over offenders to stress they should be taking care to help protect other motorists, people and Forest livestock, such as horses, cows and pigs.

Road safety sergeant for the joint operations unit of Thames Valley and Hampshire, Scott Kerr, said they stopped a "reasonable" number of motorists and members of the public, and horse riders had paused to thank them.

Project Edward is an acronym for Every Day Without a Road Death
Project Edward is an acronym for Every Day Without a Road Death

"We are trying to reinforce the message that the Forest is a wonderful place to be, with lovely scenery and fantastic views, and if you live here please respect where you live and if you visit please respect it when you visit," Sgt Kerr said.

"These are roads with mostly 40mph limits and they are clearly signed. There is no excuse for speeding. This morning we’ve had drivers going into the 50s and some doing in the 40s."

At the event was Dave Luckhurst, who is behind Project Edward – an acronym for Every Day Without a Road Death.

He launched the UK-wide operation with the long-term objective of a road traffic system free from death and serious injury, in 2016. It has since reached over 54m people online and partnered with police forces around the country to help tackle speeding.

It has teamed up with Hampshire Police for what the force is calling Project Edward, a campaign against speed, and a number of other organisations have joined in and were at the launch.

They included Forestry England, the British Horse Society, New Forest National Park Authority, Commoners Defence Association (CDA) Verderers, Agisters and the New Forest Roads Awareness (NFRA) campaign.

Gilly Jones, from NFRA and a CDA member, said it was vital the message was reinforced in light of three animals being killed in the past week and eight total animal accidents. "This about people making sure they take care," she said.

Gilly Jones of the Commoners Defence Association and New Forest Roads Awareness campaign
Gilly Jones of the Commoners Defence Association and New Forest Roads Awareness campaign

She added that after one of the fatalities, the motorist involved had requested to meet with the animal’s owner to apologise. "That is quite a rare thing to happen and it does show that some people really do care and are affected," she said. "Some incidents genuinely are accidents."

Agister Robert Maton added: "Those recent numbers do not happen every weekend and I wouldn’t want to give the wrong idea, but it does show it can happen really badly.

He said the Agister team had been "under a lot of pressure" found it "really hard" this summer as an increase in staycationers and coronavirus limiting overseas travel had caused a huge upsurge in calls to them.

Improving driver education and awareness was paramount he said, adding that while average speed cameras helped, they were fixed in one place. Having mobile cameras was better since it made drivers stick to the limit as they could be caught anywhere.

Mr Maton suggested localising driver awareness punishment days given to people who speed. "If someone was caught in the Forest it would maybe be an idea to show them videos that related to the locality, such as horses and the damage that can be done to vehicles in such incidents.

Sgt Scott Kerr, Hampshire police
Sgt Scott Kerr, Hampshire police

"I suppose money might prevent that but it just a thought since its localising that sort of thing that might hit home a little more to people," he said.

Sgt Kerr said the force planned to run similar speed operations to get its message across.

"The perception is we just go somewhere and stick up a camera for a bit but that’s not true. It is put there after an analytic assessment of areas and speeds and the best time and place to put a camera," he said.

"My message to motorists is to please be respectful on the roads, animals and people that use the Forest, please be respectful to the environment.

"We would encourage people to drive safely and well within the limits and I’d remind people while we may not be everywhere we can be anywhere to catch you if you’re going over the limit."

* This story has been amended from an earlier version which stated the launch was at Hilltop

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