Police target level crossing risk-takers at Helpston crossing

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Police are targeting motorists who put lives at risk by jumping red lights at level crossings.

This week British Transport Police have been used hi-tech equipment to catch rogue drivers at Helpston crossing, one of the busiest level crossings in the country.

A hi-tech van fitted with 12 cameras was parked at the crossing, but despite the visible presence of the police and the obvious danger from trains speeding through at more than 100mph, some drivers still risked their lives to cut a few minutes off their journey.

PC Karl Palmer, from British Transport Police, said he was shocked at what he had witnessed.

He said: “The operation is about tackling the problem of drivers driving through the crossing when the barriers are coming down, but also to show that we are here to protect and to offer guidance.

“Despite having the van in full view of the crossing, we had a few hits during the operation.

“There were four drivers who went through the crossing when the light was on amber, and one that went through when the light was on red.

“We use the 12 cameras on the van, which face forwards and backwards, so we can see the lights, and the solid white line drivers are not allowed to cross.

“If drivers are seen jumping the lights, we use a Police National Computer check to use their numberplate to find an address to send a notice too.

“The driver can accept the prosecution, and they are then offered a place on a three-hour road safety course, which costs £80, or they go to court, where they could face a £1,000 fine and six points on their licence.”

The £60,000 van is one of four in use across the country, and officers can sit in the van’s TV studio-style office looking at pictures from the cameras. The computer equipment also automatically prints out the notices to be sent to offending motorists.

The operation is part of a campaign that includes TV adverts to highlight the risks of racing through the lights.

PC Palmer said: “People who jump the lights are not just placing their lives at risk, but also the lives of people on the trains.

“I think the message is getting across, and the more we are out here then the more it will get across.