Pressure sparks review of speed cameras

By Roddy Ashworth> ESSEX Police Authority is to launch a "fundamental review" of the use of speed cameras on the county's roads, the EADT can reveal.

By Roddy Ashworth>

ESSEX Police Authority is to launch a "fundamental review" of the use of speed cameras on the county's roads, the EADT can reveal.

Members of the organisation are beginning to believe that motorists are being targeted too much and that resources should be concentrated in other areas.

Speaking last night, Police Authority chairman Robert Chambers said he thought the use of fixed cameras was verging on the excessive.

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"We will do everything we can to cut down death and serious injury, but we need to look at if we are actually doing that or if we are going too far," he said.

"I think we need to look at the whole speed camera issue. Last year, in Essex, we issued around 213,000 tickets – the Metropolitan Police only issued around 60,000.

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"I think we may have been going over the top a bit. That's why we are looking at the whole issue.

"It could mean fewer cameras. I think the Essex Police Authority needs more proof that fixed cameras are doing the job they are meant to do and whether they are necessary anymore.

"People slow down for speed cameras and then speed up again.

"It may make more sense to use mobile cameras more and move them round. Most of the road deaths happen on smaller roads.

Mr Chambers added the authority had asked the Essex chief constable, David Stevens, to come up with another report because members were not happy with the force's blanket endorsement of speed cameras Mr Stevens had presented at its last meeting.

He also warned that as people became familiar with speed cameras the authority could start to lose money as fewer and fewer tickets were issued.

"The more successful we become, the more it is likely to cost us.

"We do not currently make money from speed cameras, we recover our costs.

"However, we are not talking the potential of losing a few pounds. We are talking millions."

In 2002/2003 more than £5.6 million in £60 penalty tickets was collected by the Essex Safety Camera Partnership, which is made up of the Police Authority and the county's Highway Authority.

Of this income – generated by around 100 cameras – the Partnership kept £5.1 million to cover its cost. The rest went to the Treasury.

Last week it Essex was branded the "speed camera capital" of Britain with more cameras than any other county, and that despite the prolific success of cameras in catching motorists, death and serious injury rates were not going down.

Mr Chambers added he supported moves by transport secretary Alistair Darling to introduce new measures meaning the number of points given to a speeding motorist would depend on the speed, time and location of the offence.

"If you drive over the speed limit you are breaking the law and if you break the law you have to pay the penalty.

"We all break the law every day probably. The point is, if you've got a motorist going at between 90 and 100 mph on the motorway he or she should get six points.

"However, if you've got someone going just over the limit in a 30 mph zone it might be more productive in terms of preventing a repeat offence if they are pulled over by a traffic officer and spoken to, or perhaps fined without getting three points on their licence.

"I think we need to look at the whole speed issue and review how we enforce speed limits and how we tackle the number fatal and serious injury accidents in the county."

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