Police fury at speed camera criticism
By Roddy AshworthA SENIOR police officer has criticised as “crass rubbish” satirical speed camera signs produced by a motorists' pressure group.But the Association of British Drivers hit back, accusing Essex Police of abusing speed cameras to extort revenue from motorists.
By Roddy Ashworth
A SENIOR police officer has criticised as “crass rubbish” satirical speed camera signs produced by a motorists' pressure group.
But the Association of British Drivers hit back, accusing Essex Police of abusing speed cameras to extort revenue from motorists.
It has condemned the Essex Safety Camera Partnership - made up of Essex Police and Essex County Council - for running what it felt was a “relentless extortion racket” in the county.
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Essex has already been branded the speed camera capital of England, with Home Office figures showing it issued the largest number of tickets per county per year.
The association highlighted Home Office figures that showed that despite the increasing use of speed cameras in Essex, the death rate on the county's roads rose by 26% from 2002 to 2003.
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It has now produced a range of satirical designs - based on official speed camera warning signs - on its website for motorists to print out and stick in their cars.
One of these shows a speed camera with the words “E$$EX - a tax” next to it, while others carry the slogans “Cash Machine Ahead (For Police Use Only)”, “Greed Cameras” and “Fleecing - Not Policing”.
Association spokesman, Nigel Humphries, said the county's speed cameras did not appear to be cutting the number of deaths on Essex roads.
“Cutting to the quick, they issued more tickets than anyone else in the country and the number of deaths has gone up every year they have been operating the scheme,” he added.
“They are not a safety measure and if they are, they don't work. There were 116 road deaths in Essex in 2003, compared with 92 in 2002. The point is that they should not be using the law to generate revenue.”
Mr Humphries continued: “The reasonable behaviour of the majority of the population should not be illegal. It is virtually impossible to drive safely to the road conditions without sometimes breaking the speed limit.
“Keeping precisely to the limit means you cannot make accurate and proper note of the road conditions - these people say we have to keep our eyes on the speedometer and not the road.
“Accidents are most often caused by people - often drunks - going way over the speed limit and not by the behaviour type of people who are getting prosecuted going just a small amount above.
Defending the use of the signs on the website, he said: “We put them there to make a serious point in a way that is going to be accepted. It is one of the ways we get publicity.
“We do have serious safety points to make, but people relate to the signs because they are so incensed.”
Brian Ladd, Essex Police's casualty reduction manager, who also works for the Essex Safety Camera Partnership, dismissed the association's signs as “crass rubbish”.
He added: “To suggest fines are a tax is nonsense. People only get to pay this 'tax' if they break the law. My serious question to them is this - if you don't exceed the speed limit, why should this be an issue?
“At the end of the day every speed limit in England is mandatory. There is no option, but to drive at or below it.”
Revenue raised fines levied on motorists caught speeding by the cameras is handed to the partnership to cover its costs, with any surplus kept by the Treasury.