UK speed camera locations chosen on revenue raising potential

Police watchdog voices concerns that camera locations are chosen as “good hunting grounds” to raise money from fines, rather than to improve safety

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The locations for speed cameras are chosen because they are likely to generate significant revenue from fines, rather than because they are accident hotspots that would benefit from increased monitoring, according to a new report from a police watchdog.

An investigation into roads policing by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) says its inspectors were told speed traps are sometimes set up because the locations are “good hunting grounds” for speeders, rather than for safety reasons. The report adds: “In some cases, we found that the rationale for the deployment of camera enforcement technology was open to the suspicion that it supported a self-serving approach to raising revenue.”

The report gives further evidence that cashflow, rather than traffic safety, can be a priority for siting cameras in its explanation of how mobile locations are chosen. Rather than being managed exclusively by police officers, speed traps are often run by Safety Camera Partnerships, multi-agency groups comprised of organisations including local councils and Highways England, and operated in conjunction with police.

These Safety Camera Partnerships have, in at least one incident cited in the report, prevented a community speedwatch scheme from operating, as the speedwatch scheme would only alert drivers to their speeding, rather than issue tickets and fines.

The report comes just days after a national review into roads policing was opened by the Department for Transport, amid concerns that the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads have “plateaued”, rather than reducing, since 2010. Mobile phone use and the increasing complexity and prevalence of infotainment screens are being investigated for the role they might play in collisions as part of the review.

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