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Unmarked mobile speed camera van introduced by police

Northamptonshire Police admits that the unmarked van is “unusual”, but argues it will reduce road deaths and injuries

Speed camera van window

Police have announced the introduction of an unmarked mobile speed camera van in what they claim is a bid to reduce road deaths and injuries.

Northamptonshire Police announced they were taking “the unusual step” of introducing the force’s first unmarked speed camera van to crack down on drivers who use the roads illegally. It comes after 29 people lost their lives on the county’s roads in 2021, while a further 280 received serious injuries from collisions. The numbers appeared to get worse in 2022, with more than 40 road fatalities recorded over 12 months.

The force said the unmarked van would be used at various locations around Northamptonshire, with priority given to roads with high collision rates or where poor driving has been reported.

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More than 50,000 road offences detected in the county last year involved one of the ‘Fatal Five’ – careless driving, excessive speed, using a mobile phone behind the wheel, not wearing a seat belt, and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Speeding specifically was one of the top four main contributory factors in road collisions in Northamptonshire.

Superintendent Jen Helm, head of operations at Northamptonshire Police and chair of the county’s Safer Roads Alliance, said: “I know the majority consider everyone getting home safe as more important than travelling the extra 10mph over the speed limit or checking their mobile phones while driving, but sometimes people lose focus.

“However, there are those who choose to deliberately drive or ride irresponsibly or illegally on our roads when they think they can get away with it. This is what the unmarked enforcement van is designed to tackle.”

Many speeding drivers either attend a speed awareness course or receive three penalty points on their licence. Either way, a £100 fine is issued, which goes to the Treasury’s consolidated fund and is used by the Government for general expenditure. Northamptonshire Police acknowledged that it does a £45 recovery fee for any offenders who complete the awareness course, but this money is ring-fenced for spending on road safety.

The force’s Safer Roads operations manager, Matt O’Connell, said: “We know that people change their driving behaviour when they see a marked police vehicle and using unmarked vehicles is nothing new. However, this is the first time we’ve adopted this approach when it comes to mobile enforcement.”

He added: “With the level of offending across the county, we need to do something different, and the use of unmarked enforcement vehicles might make people think twice before taking unnecessary risks in Northamptonshire.”

Should mobile speed camera vans without markings be used on UK roads? Have your say in the comments…

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