May 23rd, 2009 by admin
ANGRY motorists – some armed with bricks and rocks – are attacking speed camera operators in increasing numbers leading to calls for better police protection.
The public servants are demanding police upgrade their cars with reinforced glass to prevent windows shattering in the event of a missile attack.
It comes after a rash of attacks against the public servants has sparked concern from the Public Services Association about the “health and safety” of its members.
Among the more alarming incidents revealed by the PSA were:
A PROJECTILE fired through the rear window of a car narrowly missing a female operator while she was parked on Main North Rd, Elizabeth and;
A BALACLAVA-wearing assailant hurling a brick through the windscreen of another operator’s car near Mt Gambier in February 2008.
PSA acting general secretary Neville Kitchin wrote to Police Commissioner Mal Hyde last month seeking an “urgent meeting” to discuss the attacks.
“The PSA is concerned for the health and safety of its members conducting traffic camera operations,” he wrote in the April 2 letter.
“A number of incidents have been reported were SAPOL vehicles conducting traffic camera operations have been target by members of the public.
“The PSA considers that the incidents are serious and every measure should be taken to ensure the safety of our members.”
He said the PSA wanted safety film applied to windows to prevent them “being penetrated” by projectiles thrown from passing vehicles.
“It would also improve safety when members of the public attempt to break through the glass by striking the windows with bricks, rocks etc,” he said.
There are up to 40 staff in the Traffic Camera Unit who are deployed across the state to detect speeding motorists.
The details of the attacks come as police figures obtained by the Sunday Mail through Freedom of Information laws reveal operators are reporting increasing levels of abuse and assault.
Figures show there were 59 reported incidents of assault, abuse and threats in 2008, compared to just seven in 2005.
A former camera operator and Traffic Camera Unit supervisor who only gave his first name Ian said operators had been lobbying for protective film “for a long time”.
“I’ve had bottles thrown at me, I’ve had my car rammed and one guy hit me a couple of times and took my windows off,” said Ian, who worked in the unit from 2001 until 2008.
“There should be at least two people (in the car) in more hazardous areas, such as the northern suburbs and southern suburbs or in isolated locations and certainly at night time.”
In an emailed statement Police Minister Michael Wright said any intimidation or assault on Government employees was “totally unacceptable”.
“People need to remember the reasons these cameras are set-up, is to deter drivers from from doing the wrong thing, making our roads safer, and potentially saving lives in the process,” he said.
INCIDENTS AGAINST SPEED CAMERA OPERATORS:
PHOTOS TAKEN OF OPERATOR