Introduction to school crossing patrols

Key facts

  • Between 2010 and 2014, there was a cut in numbers of lollipop people of at least 992 [1];
  • 46% of children aged five to 10 years, and 38% of those aged 11 to 16, walk to school, although these numbers are in decline as more and more children are driven to school [2];
  • In 2015, 1,283 children on foot were killed or seriously injured on Great Britain’s roads [3], 511 of these in the morning or evening of a school-day [4]

Introduction

School crossing patrols (or lollipop people) provide a vital service by helping children cross roads safely on their way to school as part of a broader provision of safe crossing facilities by local authorities. Yet lollipop people numbers are declining: between 2010 and 2014, there was a cut in numbers of lollipop people of at least 992 [5].

46% of children aged five to 10 years, and 38% of those aged 11 to 16, walk to school, although these numbers are in decline as more and more children are driven to school [6]. The danger on our roads discourages parents from choosing to let their children walk or cycle to school. Even though the numbers of children killed on our roads is decline, in 2014, 1,283 children on foot were killed or seriously injured on Great Britain’s roads [7], 511 of these in the morning or evening of a school-day [8].

Take action: Support Brake’s GO 20 campaign for slower speeds in towns, cities and villages, and Brake’s rural roads not racetracks campaign for slower speeds on country roads.

Local authorities

Local authorities have a duty to promote the use of sustainable transport, including for children on their way to school [9]. The first official lollipop people were introduced in the 1950s [10]. Lollipop people are appointed by the county council, the metropolitan district council, or in London the Metropolitan Police [11]. It is the law that drivers have to stop for a lollipop person when they indicate traffic to stop, and since 2001 they have had the power to help both children and adults to cross the road [12].  

There are many ways of making sure our children can walk and cycle safely to school. Slowing down traffic, for example by establishing 20mph limits, is a powerful way to make their journeys safer [13]. Yet lollipop people retain a key role to play in making our streets safer, not least as they offer a friendly face that encourages active and sustainable travel.

Take our interactive quiz on 20mph limits

End notes 

[1] ITV news, “Are cuts in lollipop lady number putting our children at risk?”, 2014

[2] National Travel Survey 2014: Travel to school, Department for Transport, 2015

[3] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual Report 2015, Table RAS30016, Department for Transport, 2016

[4] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual report 2015, Table RAS30030, Department for Transport, 2016

[5] ITV news (2014) “Are cuts in lollipop lady number putting our children at risk?”

[6] National Travel Survey 2014: Travel to school, Department for Transport, 2015

[7] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual Report 2015, Table RAS30016, Department for Transport, 2016

[8] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain: Annual report 2015, Table RAS30030, Department for Transport, 2016

[9] Home to school travel and transport guidance: Statutory guidance for local authorities, Department for Transport, 2014

[10] Moran, J., “Crossing the road in Britain 1931-1976”, 2006, The Historical Journal 49(2) pp.477-496

[11] RoSPA, School Crossing Patrol Service Guidelines, 2012

[12] Traffic at 30mph is too fast for children’s visual capabilities, University of Royal Holloway London, 2010

[13] See Brake’s Go 20 campaign for 20mph limits where people walk, shop and go to school.


Page last updated: January 2016