Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Freight Truck Drivers Can See Safe Parking on TV from Tomorrow

International Effort to Defeat Crime Using Screen Technology
Shipping News Feature

UK – NETHERLANDS – GERMANY – Tomorrow sees the launch of a new initiative between freight truck drivers and the police in an attempt to minimise the number of lorry related crimes so prevalent on the motorways of Europe. The ‘Stammtisch event’ is an Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) initiative set up to improve communication between the Police and commercial vehicle drivers and haulage operators.

Every year €8.2 billion worth of cargo and vehicles are stolen across Europe, often when parked in unsecure locations. Organised criminal groups target vulnerable vehicles parked in isolated, unlit lay-bys. The latest figures published by TruckPol, the national freight crime intelligence unit, show that freight crime is up 86% in quarter two (April-June 2011), compared to the first quarter of 2011. A total of 1,175 freight crimes were committed across the UK over the three month period. Fuel theft is a particular problem and is cited as the major reason for the dramatic increase. Slash attacks are also a frequently committed crime with opportunist thieves slashing the side of vehicles parked in an unsecure area in order to steal goods from trucks.

The Yorkshire and Humberside regions feature in the top 20 crime hotspots. South Yorkshire encountered more freight crimes than any other area in the UK with 91 freight crimes committed over the past three months. West Yorkshire experienced 81 crimes, Humberside 35 and North Yorkshire 21. Doncaster, Wakefield and Leeds were all reported as particular problem areas and tomorrow will give freight drivers using Ulceby Truckstop, near the Port of Immingham, will have a chance to experience an innovative crime reduction project that delivers live information to drivers through TV screens. 

This initiative is being launched alongside a Humberside Police crime prevention surgery and will see screen media supplied by Freight North Sea Freight Intelligent Transport Solutions (NS FRITS) displaying real-time data including local crime hotspots, traffic information and the availability of safe parking at Truckstops within the area. The screens will also provide drivers with information about NS FRITS’ capabilities and how it will help to keep them safe and improve their working lives.

The screen media will be available at Ulceby until the end of the year and the scheme is also being launched in the Netherlands at a Truckstop on the Dutch German border. The screen media is split into two areas. On the right of the screen drivers can see real-time traffic updates and the locations of crime hotspots and Truckstops. The maps zoom into the actual location, supplying drivers with additional information such as directions and the address of safe parking areas. On the left of the screen they can view a video that demonstrates NS FRITS capabilities. A live BBC news feed scrolls on the bottom of the screen. The traffic and secure parking data comes from a Highways Agency data feed and the crime hotspots information is provided by the ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS). Information is updated in real-time.

It is hoped that by giving drivers access to the information via NS FRITS, the number of freight crimes will reduce. The screen media has been developed to support the information supplied by NS FRITS through an android mobile phone, tablet and desktop application. The screen media shows regional information in the local language, whereas the main NS FRITS application covers all areas in a range of languages.

The launch of the screen media is the latest development in the NS FRITS project, a €4.9m European proof of concept project which will be completed in December of this year. NS FRITS is being developed by a group of organisations including Humberside Police, Avanti Communications, Sheffield-based charity People United Against Crime, Volvo, University of Hull, AVCIS and the Dutch Police.

Stammtisch is a scheme to improve communication between the Police and lorry drivers. It is currently held by around 15-20 Police Forces throughout the UK. Stammtisch is a German concept meaning ‘round table’ or regular get-together around a table at recognised places of rest such as motorway stops and dedicated Truckstops. Humberside Police adopted the concept in October 2010 as a result of their involvement as a partner of the NS FRITS project. The Humberside Force operates Stammtisch at the Ulceby Truckstop near Immingham in North Lincolnshire on the first Wednesday of every month.

The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Programme is co-funding 50% of the €4.9m NS FRITS project, the balance being contributed by the project partners. The public/private sector partnership includes Volvo, Avanti Communications, Avonwood Developments, Bremen Senator for Education and Science, AVCIS, Humberside Police, the Dutch Police and the University of Hull and the University of Huddersfield.