A Merseyside Police “speeding initiative” where year five schoolchildren pointed speed guns at drivers in mock police stops has been condemned on social media after going viral online.
The initiative saw children as young as ten from Ursuline Catholic Primary School giving “selfish” speeding adults roadside tellings-off in Crosby as part of a move to raise awareness about the dangers of speeding.
The year fives, dubbed the “small Police” by Sefton Police, carried out the operation on Warren Road – home to two schools and two nurseries.
Police said the kids “loved coming out with us and giving adults a telling off… for putting other people like them at risk”.
The initiative saw schoolchildren using speed guns to accost drivers in Crosby
The service said: “The main excuse was “I was rushing to get my kids from school” and drivers we stopped were particularly sheepish to be caught out by children.
“No one was given a ticket or a fine – we let the kids do the talking and that was enough for most.”
The post garnered some damning comments, with one social media user saying the initiative was “laughable”, and claiming “speed traps like this are purely to profiteer”.
Another called it “child labour” and said the children “should be in school” instead of being “free slave labour for cops”, while one said the initiative was “brainwashing the kids”.
Ursuline Catholic Primary School, from where year five pupils were selected to help out police
Though some supported the initiative, with one commenter directing “those who whinge and moan about it” to “go at the speed limit and you won’t get caught… imagine being caught speeding by a five-year-old”.
One social media praised her granddaughter’s involvement in the exercise, calling it a “fab idea”, while a mother of a boy involved said her son “loved it” and it led to “some great stories over dinner”.
One reply to the grandmother’s comment called the initiative “unprofessional” and said: “All I can see in this photo is child labour which is illegal.
“It would be a completely different outcomie if I was helping my dad with his business at the age of 9 – he would probably get fined for it… One rule for them, another for us.”
Warren Road, where Sefton Police set up speed traps for motorists
Some noted the risks of involving children in police ‘speed traps’ – one said: “It sounds like a great idea… But if a child got killed while doing this, it would be a different story.
“Police officers have been killed while doing this kind of operation before and they will have all the safety training too… This sort of thing really is too dangerous for our kids to do.”
One user said being told off by children in a ‘mini Police’ stop ten years ago was the “most effective approach” to combatting speeding, and said: “Not only does it make you think twice about your speed, it also educates the next generation.”
Sefton Police said the barrage of comments “helped us reach lots more people than we ever hoped to” – and despite admitting the topic’s “polarising” nature, stressed the necessity of improving road safety.