Huge rise in number of fines for speeding

THE number of motorists handed speeding tickets each year in Suffolk since 1997 has increased five-fold, Government figures have revealed.

Ministry of Justice records show a dramatic escalation in fixed-penalty notices (FPNs) issued to speeding motorists – from 7,271 in 1997 to 34,678 in 2008.

And more than 37,000 speeding tickets were issued to drivers exceeding the limit on the county’s roads in 2009-10.

Police have credited proactive policing, education and enforcement for an increase in the detection of traffic offences.

But Suffolk MP David Ruffley described the rise as a consequence of an engendered “target-hitting culture” brought about by the previous Government during its administration.

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Meanwhile, the mother of a 26-year-old killed two years ago by a speeding drink-driver, welcomed the increasing detection rate but insisted the threat of harsher punishment was required to discourage speeding altogether.

On the basis of speeding penalties usually costing �60, the 377% rise in FPNs since 2007 could potentially account for a total �16.17million in collected fines.

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Court convictions for speeding offences meanwhile rose 233% from 1,052 in 1997 to 3,504 in 2009.

But in neighbouring Essex, FPNs dropped by nearly half in the same period, while court convictions also fell by about 1,000.

A Suffolk oolice spokesman said the increase in the amount of FPNs issued for speeding in the last decade was down to a number of factors, including more speed cameras in the county and more police officers working proactively to identify motoring offences.

He added: “Cutting the numbers of motorists speeding is always a priority and education and enforcement will remain key to improving driver behaviour.

“This, together with publicity on court cases and our campaigns in the local media, will ensure the county remains a safe place to live and drive in.”

The new figures were released in answer to Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley’s questioning of Alan Campbell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office.

Mr Ruffley acknowledged the importance of drivers respecting highway laws but remained sceptical about policing incentives, saying: “These figures suggest police have devoted a lot more time to detecting these offences. But it begs the question: Why wasn’t that time spent on more serious crime?

“Some will say detecting driving offences is an easy way to hit Government targets. Since 1997, this target-hitting culture has been ramped up.”

In Essex, the numbers of FPNs and court convictions for speeding has shifted irregularly since 1997, when levels were higher than they are today.

An Essex Police spokesman said: “It is always difficult to compare forces with regards to tickets issued across geographical variance such as urban and rural areas.

“Essex has major trunk roads and this in itself requires a different approach to how road policing resources are used.

“We also work closely with Essex Casualty Reduction Board, so all these different working relationships, along with geographical issues, make it difficult to compare the number of tickets for speeding across county or force boundaries.”

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