Speed camera made

By David Green and John HowardTHE organisation that operates speed cameras in Suffolk has admitted for the first time that “spurious” readings had been recorded at the notorious Earl Stonham site.

By David Green and John Howard

THE organisation that operates speed cameras in Suffolk has admitted for the first time that “spurious” readings had been recorded at the notorious Earl Stonham site.

But it said the incidents of very high speeds recorded by the camera were still the subject of an investigation by the manufacturers and no definite conclusion had been reached.

One coach driver was falsely accused of driving 81mph past the Earl Stonham speed camera, while a taxi driver was wrongly accused of speeding at 78mph there. Both have since been exonerated.

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Other drivers, including two women who said they always observed speed limits, have contacted the East Anglian Daily Times to express doubts over whether they should have paid fines for what they had imagined had been lapses of concentration after being caught by the Earl Stonham camera.

Suffolk Safecam, the consortium that runs the county's speed camera network, said yesterday that it had checked many of the photographs taken at the Earl Stonham site and had found the speeds recorded to be accurate.

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It said the “spurious” readings referred to in a Suffolk Safecam statement should have been discovered by staff checking the data with the photographs taken.

The photographs take images of the vehicles against special markings on the road surface that reveal the speeds at which they were being driven.

SafeCam said it had taken action to reduce human error, but was still awaiting the technical assessment of the camera.

Its statement added: “We greatly regret that human error has resulted in distress and worry for the drivers involved.

“It is important to note that no drivers have actually been prosecuted in these circumstances and that as soon as the errors came to light they were corrected and an apology made.”

The statement said any drivers who wanted “reassurance” about an offence of which they had been accused, or had already settled, could contact Suffolk SafeCam for a secondary check.

One of the drivers falsely accused was bus driver Trevor Martin, of Preston Drive, Ipswich, whom was caught by the Earl Stonham speed camera allegedly driving at 81mph on January 18, when in fact he was only going at 29mph.

Mr Martin was able to prove his innocence because the bus he was driving was fitted with a tachograph, which recorded his speed, and a device prevented it going above 62mph.

He said last night: “A lot of people in private cars would not have the safety of an onboard tachograph and without that the whole experience could be more stressful and could leave you with points wrongly on your licence.

“For me I knew I could not have gone through at that speed, so it was not as stressful as it could have been.

“I was more angry with the system and I welcome this apology by Suffolk SafeCam. You do think though that people could have paid up wrongly.”

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