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School crossing guards, known as lollipop ladies (or men) in the UK because of the signs they carry, are getting digital video cameras to provide evidence against the increasing numbers of drivers who ignore or abuse them.

The Local Government Association said there were 1,400 incidents of lollipop rage reported to local councils last year. Dozens of lollipop ladies have needed hospital treatment after being hit by cars.

Offences include driving past crossing guards when they're in the road, revving engines, or honking horns and verbal abuse. Lollipop ladies are now trained to deal with confrontations with angry drivers. Lack of evidence means very few cases end up in court.

The school crossing sign, when it is upright, has the same legal status as a red stop light but is often ignored by drivers. A British company, Routesafe Ltd, has fitted the signs with two cameras, one facing each way, and digital recorders. The kit adds only 400 grams to the sign's weight - important because many lollipop ladies are elderly.

Lee Fairbrother, product manager for Routesafe monitor, told the Reg: "I never realised this was a problem until we were asked to investigate it by a council which didn't like the headcams it was using. Since we started looking at it last August I've spoken to so many people about the problem - one council had so many 'drive-throughs' that it no longer even reports them to the police."

Fairbrother said: "The camera is activated when the lollipop is in the vertical position - when it is a legal instrument. We only launched them at the end of February but five councils have bought them already and another 150 have put money aside for them."

The lollipop-cams cost £890.

The first lollicams go out to councils next month and most are ordering just a few which can be shared around as a deterrent. ®

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