Speeding driver numbers increase in Essex over past year
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The number of speeding drivers sent on awareness courses in Essex has increased by around 8,000 in the past year.
Police forces can send motorists caught for minor speed offences on awareness courses run under the National Driver Offender Retraining Scheme (NDORS) umbrella, instead of issuing a fine and penalty points.
NDORS courses are provided by private companies on behalf of the police.
The Safer Essex Roads Partnership (SERP) has now revealed that approximately 50,000 people attended NDORS courses from the county in 2016/17, compared to around 42,000 the year before.
A SERP spokesman said: “We take speeding seriously and that is why, where appropriate, Essex Police offers drivers the option of education on the dangers of speeding at a price that is lower than the equivalent fixed penalty notice they would otherwise receive.
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“One simple way to avoid any of these charges is to obey the speed limit.
“More details on road safety education are available on our website at www.saferessexroads.org”
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For each person sent on a course, the police force is awarded £35 in cost recovery to cover administration fees which last month rose to £45.
Research by the Press Association revealed a ‘postcode lottery’ in the total cost of courses.
The lowest for car drivers is in Northamptonshire where a course costs £75, while in Essex the price is £91.
Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary had the highest fee for motorcycle courses at £185, compared to just £80 in Lancashire.
Nationally around 1.2 million drivers attend speed awareness courses annually, meaning with the cost recovery fee increase police forces will now collect £54million each year.
Forces receive millions of pounds more from the 200,000 road users attending several other courses
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Most people attending speed awareness courses sing their praises but what they might not realise is the postcode lottery they face in terms of the costs.
“Surely there is no other part of the criminal justice system where fines and penalties vary by as much as a third across the country?
“Intuitively, people would expect to pay a fixed price for doing wrong, not an arrangement that offers rewards for shopping around or penalises partly because of where people live.”
An NDORS spokesman said course providers tried to absorb as much of the 29% rise in the police cost recovery fee as possible, meaning speed awareness courses went up by an average of less than one pound last month to £88.90.
He added the pricing of courses is a “complicated issue” due to differences in attendee numbers, locations and durations.
SERP is made up of Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and Thurrock Council along with Essex Police, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Highways England, the Essex Air Ambulance, The East of England Ambulance Service and The Safer Roads Foundation.