STOP means Stop when school crossing patrol (SCP) staff are helping youngsters get across roads safely drivers are being warned, following an increase in near-miss incidents across Worcestershire.

Although the numbers of "drive-through" incidents are still low the numbers reported have gone up over the past few months.

Every day thousands of youngsters in the county are helped safely across roads on their way to school by the team of crossing patrols operating on around 100 sites.

Posters, which show the "four pole" positions detailed in the Highway Code, are on display at sites that have experienced "failure to stop" incidents.

The positions are one, sign upside down - SCP not ready to cross pedestrians, two, sign sideways - barrier to stop pedestrians, three, sign held up high and angled into the road - SCP ready to cross pedestrians and all vehicles must be prepared to stop and four, extended out - vehicles must stop and remain stationary until the patrol returns to the pavement.

It is an offence under the Road Traffic Act of 1984 not to stop when signalled to do so by a school crossing patrol. The possible penalties for breaking the law include three points on a driving licence, up to a £1,000 fine and disqualification.

Conservative councillor John Smith, Worcestershire County Council cabinet member for highways, said: "It's difficult to understand why people take such risks and break the law by failing to stop when our school crossing patrols signal to do so.

"Thankfully, the vast majority of motorists respect the job these dedicated people carry out within their communities but, unfortunately, there are still irresponsible drivers out there, putting others and themselves in danger.

"The message is clear - stop means stop. There is just no point in taking risks for the sake of a few seconds."