Scotland

Nine-camera van used in level crossing misuse crackdown

A purpose-built police van, fitted with nine cameras, is to be used in Scotland to deter motorists from using level crossings dangerously.

The vehicle's introduction to Scotland follows a pilot in south east England.

Number plate recognition technology will be used, and the van has access to computer systems so that prosecutions can be processed immediately.

Network Rail and the British Transport Police (BTP) launched the van at Central Station in Glasgow.

In the past three years there have been more than 1,100 offences recorded at Scottish level crossings, including 40 incidents of trespass.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill , who attended the launch, said: "Drivers and pedestrians who deliberately ignore traffic signals not only put their own and other people's lives at risk, but they also commit a criminal offence and are doing so in increasing numbers.

"This government therefore welcomes the significant increase that this new vehicle will bring to British Transport Police's detection capabilities and the contribution this new vehicle will bring in creating a safer Scotland."

Ch Supt Ellie Bird, area commander for BTP in Scotland, said the van would help to protect people on roads and the railway in the country.

She said: "Our concern, with Network Rail, is that there are a number of people who are failing to conform to the legal requirements when using the crossings.

"This is not only potentially dangerous to the individuals in the vehicle, but can have absolutely catastrophic consequences for the driver of the train and all of those passengers that are on that train."

The £60,000 camera van is one of three in the UK which have been funded by Network Rail.

David Simpson, route managing director for Scotland, said: "Driver misuse of level crossings is one of the biggest external risks to rail safety.

"We regularly see drivers ignoring warning lights at crossings or attempting to beat barriers as they come down - resulting in damage to our infrastructure and delays to train services."

Mr Simpson said level crossings "are safe when used correctly" and the van would be deployed at "hot spots".

BTP said there were 417 recorded offences on Scottish level crossings, including 16 trespassing incidents, last year and 414 offences, including 16 trespassing incidents between January 1 and September 14 this year.

In 2009 there were 279 recorded offences including eight trespassing incidents.

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