SERGEANT Rich Comins’ police radio bursts into life.
“Just to check,” he says. “It’s the black BMW we need to stop.”
The answer comes back in the affirmative.
Sgt Comins slowly steps out into the main A158 which runs through Tattersall.
He raises his hand. There’s no danger the owner of the BMW won’t spot him.
He’s one of the lead officers in a ‘day of action’ organised by Horncastle Police as part of an on-going bid to combat road crime.
A few seconds earlier and the black BMW had driven by a marked police car, parked 800 yards along the road.
Like the vast majority of car owners, the driver had no doubt spotted the police car and slowed down, checking he wasn’t breaking any speed limit.
Unbeknown to him, the police car contained one of the latest weapons in the on-going bid to combat traffic offences - an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, or ANPR is its known among officers.
The system is directly connected to the DVLA’s computer in Swansea.
The number plate of a car is run through the computer and the result is sent back to officers. The whole process takes a couple of seconds.
The system identifies any vehicle which has been reported stolen - or is not taxed, tested or insured. It also checks whether the car’s owner is disqualified from driving.
The black car is flagged up - or ‘pinged’ as Sgt Comins describes it - as a possible suspect vehicle.
In this particular instance, officers have a quick chat with the driver and decide no further action needs to be taken.
Sgt Comins admits the introduction of the ANPR system has been a huge assistance to officers.
Police still use speed cameras, but the latest technology means it is much easier - and quicker - to identify anyone breaking the law.
Sgt Comins said: “It’s not just about speeding. Thanks to the ANPR system, we can identify a whole range of potential offences.
“I know what people will say. We are persecuting motorists again but that’s not right. We are responding to the public’s concerns.”
There have, of course, been a number of high-profile traffic incidents in recent weeks, ranging from a fatal accident in Haltham to calls to crackdown on speeding drivers in Boston Road, Horncastle and Woodhall Spa.
“We have a number of what we call ‘hot-spots’”, adds Sgt Comins, “and we are visiting as many of them as possible.”
The day of action started at nearby RAF Coningsby where officers joined the RAF and Military Police checking vehicles entering the high-profile air base.
The force’s on-going crackdown on scrap metal thefts, code-named “Operation Brompton”, was also featured.
Sgt Comins added: “The thieves use the road system to get about. We’ve had a lot of success so far and we are going to continue with the operation.
“As I said. It’s not just about speeding. It’s a bit of everything really. It’s all about making the roads safer - something I’m sure everyone would agree with.”
With that, his radio bursts into life again...
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Weather for Horncastle
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 14 C to 23 C
Wind Speed: 12 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 12 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: East