Home News Partnership approach leads to road safety boost for children and families

Partnership approach leads to road safety boost for children and families

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Steyning Grammar deputy head teacher Nat Nicol, Thakeham Primary head teacher Sam Norton, school crossing patrol officer Mick Bassett, Ellie Thornton Foundation co-founder and chairman Ben Thornton, handing over the camera, and county council project lead for crossing patrol body cameras, Louise Bishop. They are pictured with Steyning Grammar students and Thakeham Primary’s junior road safety officers, who are young ambassadors for road safety within the school.

A partnership between two schools, a charitable organisation and the county council has led to a road safety boost for children and families in Thakeham.

The Ellie Thornton Foundation, Thakeham Primary and neighbouring Steyning Grammar, have funded a school crossing patrol body camera. The aim is to help prevent abusive behaviour by road users and improve safety. The council has provided training and will give ongoing support to crossing patrol officer Mick Bassett.

The Foundation was established in memory of Ellie Thornton, 11, who died after being involved in a road accident in March 2017. Ellie was a pupil at Rydon Community College, now Steyning Grammar, and the Foundation will champion what was important to her, and what is important to her family, in her name. One of the causes the Foundation supports is to help road safety initiatives and education.

Ellie’s dad, Ben Thornton, co-founder and chairman of the Foundation, said: “I am really pleased that The Ellie Thornton Foundation has been able to support the two schools in improving road safety around the school crossing, with the purchase and introduction of the body-worn camera.

“This is now the second camera we have helped purchase and, with the county council’s assistance, we hope to continue helping to fund cameras for other schools. We will continue to champion road safety for children travelling to and from school, a topic which is incredibly important to us. Schools try hard to keep pupils safe on their routes to school but there is only so much they can do. We hope the cameras will encourage drivers to behave in a way that does not increase risk to pedestrians.”

Both Thakeham Primary and Steyning Grammar hope the crossing patrol’s new body camera will help deter inconsiderate driving and encourage even more parents to walk their children to school.

The county council’s crossing patrol team, working in conjunction with Sussex Police, encourages schools to use body cameras to deter ‘drive throughs’ and abusive behaviour outside school gates.

The cameras are worn across the chest to capture audio and video of motorists driving dangerously, or being abusive towards patrols as they help children and parents across the road.

If footage is captured of an offence, it is passed to Sussex Police to consider as evidence for possible prosecution.

Anyone interested in arranging a camera for a school crossing patrol outside their school can contact Louise Bishop on 033022 26744 or email louise.bishop@westsussex.gov.uk

Key facts: 
• It is an offence to drive past a School Crossing Patrol when they are in the road
• If caught, the offender will receive a fine and three points on their licence – the same they would receive for driving through a red light
• The camera records every shift a School Crossing Patrol works
• If nothing of note happens, the memory card is wiped
• West Sussex County Council puts up temporary signs outside the school warning offending motorists they are on camera.