Roadside Memorials and Tributes
If you are reading this article, you may have lost a family member or a friend as a result of a road traffic collision.
While there is nothing we can say to ease your pain and sense of loss, we do offer our deepest personal sympathy and would ask that, when you feel able, you take the time to read below.
WHAT ARE THE ISSUES
Laying flowers and tributes at the site of a fatal collision has, in recent years, become more common and to many families involved it is an important part of their grieving process and provides a touching reminder of the loss of a loved one. However, over the last few years, tributes have become more elaborate as they now include such items as crosses, candles, bunting, toys, scarves, pictures and photographs. Experience around the UK has shown that, while these tributes could be seen as a reminder to other drivers to drive with greater care and tolerance, other people may see them as a distraction and, for local people, an unwanted reminder of a tragedy which they would prefer to put behind them.
This leaflet sets out the balanced approach that has been adopted in Sussex to address these issues. Clearly there is no ideal solution to this issue but this guidance attempts to offer a balance which not only looks after the needs of the victim’s family and friends but also those of the wider community. We hope you will see our approach as being fair and reasonable.
Finally, you should be aware local roads within the Sussex Police area (excluding trunk roads) are the responsibility of East Sussex County Council, West Sussex County Council, or Brighton & Hove City Council. As local highway authorities, they have responsibility of approving anything placed on the public highway, regardless of whether it is temporary or permanent. This matter has therefore been formally considered by these councils and this leaflet reflects the decisions they have made.
All roads have potential dangers, especially so at collision sites. If you wish to visit the scene of a fatal collision to place a tribute, you must take the layout of the road into account to:
- reduce the risks to those placing tributes or visiting the memorial; and
- avoid causing a dangerous distraction to other road users.
If you do not remove tributes within 12 weeks of the incident the relevant local authority will remove them and take those that are not flowers to a safe storage area. The local authorities will keep these tributes at the storage area for size months, and if you do not collect them within that time they will dispose of them with sensitivity.
The placing of tributes on the anniversary of a collision is not approved and any tribute relating to such an incident which happened in a previous year, will be removed, in line with the details set out above.
This approach has been in place since 1 October 2006 in East and West Sussex, and since 24 January 2008 in Brighton & Hove. Any tributes or memorials aid in these areas before those dates will be reviewed on an individual basis and with the family concerned. But, they may be removed during routine maintenance if they are considered to be a danger or a distraction to people using the road.
The approach to managing roadside memorials in Sussex is set out below and has been developed by the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership. The main advice is as follows:
Temporary floral tributes or soft toys are allowed, but would you please remove them within 12 weeks of the incident. Please do not put any items newer places that are dangerous to get to, such as the central reservation of a dual carriageway or the central island of a busy roundabout.
If local residents have become involved in a fatal collision, then their views will be taken into account in deciding on the placing of floral tributes but the tributes should still be removed after 12 weeks.
All flowers or any other tributes will be removed when a period of 12 weeks after the incident has elapsed. Longer-term memorials (such as benches or commemorative plaques) or anniversary tributes should, if agreed, be placed away from the public highway.
The local authorities will co-ordinate removing floral tributes where possible through the Sussex Police Family Liaison Officer who will tell you the date you should remove the tribute. This will give you the opportunity to remove aby personal items from the roadside before the clearing of the verge is arranged to take place.
Any memorials that appear to be permanent or tributes that we consider put people using the road in danger will be removed. The police will tell you if we need to do this. Permanent roadside memorials will not be permitted.
If you want to discuss flowers or other tributes on the highway or want to confirm our policy guidelines, then please contact the appropriate County Council or Sussex Police:
Phone: 0845 60 70 999
EAST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
Phone: 0845 60 80 193
WEST SUSSEX COUNTY COUNCIL
Phone: 01243 64 21 05
BRIGHTON & HOVE CITY COUNCIL
Phone: 01273 29 37 05
East and West Sussex County Councils and Brighton & Hove City Council are not responsible for the trunk road network, this is the responsibility of the Highways Agency (HA) based at Dorking. Their view on roadside tributes and memorials is that they are not appropriate for high-speed roads due to the significant dangers they represent.
Although the HA does not currently ban roadside memorials completely, there are serious concerns over the risks they present and the further incidents they could lead to. If you have laid a tribute on a trunk road, the HA will review the tribute on an individual basis, but they reserve the right to remove it if they consider it to be a danger.
These guidelines have been developed taking account of everyone who uses the road and has been affected by a fatal collision. The aim is to manage the immediate response to a road death sympathetically and safely taking the long-term safety of all road users into account.