Anorak News | Camera Never Lies

Camera Never Lies

by | 5th, March 2004

‘AFTER a thorough review of all 5,500 roadside speed cameras, the Government has concluded that the number of cameras wrongly sited is…zero.

Anyone reading at more than 60 words-per-minute will be fined

The Telegraph says the news, which followed an assessment by councils and police forces, was announced “to the disbelief of motoring groups” – but it shouldn’t have been.

After all, this is a Government that has awarded itself an A+ in its annual report every year since 1997.

And asking the police and local councils, who are major beneficiaries of the revenue from the cameras, to assess their legality is a bit like asking a Leicester City footballer to chair a committee on sexual ethics.

However, in this instance it appears that the police and local councils may be in the right.

None of the cameras contravene Government guidelines on siting of cameras for the simple reason that Government guidelines state that you can pretty well put them where you want.

All of which, says the Times, is news to most of us who foolishly believed the Department for Transport’s claim that cameras were placed only where there had been a minimum number of injury-causing accidents.

What happened was that last October the Government (which is, of course, the other main beneficiary of the revenue from the cameras) issued 140 pages of further guidelines that allowed 15% of cameras not to conform to previous guidelines.

In other words, as long as 85% of roadside speed cameras were positioned at accident blackspots, the Chief Constable of Northamptonshire Police could put a camera on the finishing straight at Silverstone if he so wished.

The only problem was that the Government forgot to announce this new policy, which even the Department for Transport admits pretty well amounts to a carte blanche.

“The rules do not preclude cameras being placed at sites that do not meet the guidelines,” the DfT tells the Telegraph, “if they contribute to the overall strategy aimed at reducing road accident casualties.”

And, of course, at raising flipping great wads of cash.

In the financial year 2002-3, the Telegraph reports that 1.5m drivers paid a total of £73m in fines, and this year that number is expected to rise to three million people paying £180m in fines.

Only Durham is likely to remain outside what effectively amounts to an extortion racket by the end of the year.

Its chief constable, Paul Garvin, said he couldn’t think of a single place in the county where cameras would be useful in tackling road safety problems.

However, we’re sure that, if he put his mind to it, he could think of several where they would be useful in swelling the force’s coffers.’

Posted: 5th, March 2004 | In: Broadsheets Comment | TrackBack | Permalink