London, 8 May 1998.
For immediate release.

Contact the ABD

Previous
Press Release
Next

ACPO's Technology Abuse
The Association of British Drivers denounces ACPO's proposals for the nationwide use of speed camera technology purely for revenue generation
ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, has announced plans to increase by 30-fold the number of speed cameras in the UK. They claim that the justification for this is that blanketing the UK with these devices, purportedly at accident blackspots, will 'save hundreds of lives'.

There are innumerable flaws in the reasoning used to justify this proposed measure but the most fundamental one is the so-called 'Speed Kills' hypothesis. There is no sound basis for this mindless slogan and, in fact, there is no systematic collection of UK road accident causation data. In 1996 the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety stated 'a detailed study including the part played by speed in accidents ..... has not been carried out [in the UK] for a number of years'. Contrary to the transport ministry's propaganda based on the presumption that one-third of all accidents is caused by excessive speed, evidence from the United States (where accurate road accident causation statistics are collected) suggests the proportion is more like 2%.

Another flaw is the assertion that cameras are only sited at accident blackspots. This is presumably why they are used on safe and open stretches of dual carriageway like the A30 near Okehampton. Or the Batheaston bypass, a brand new dual carriageway with engineered-in accident blackspots necessitating the installation of speed cameras. Road Safety Officers have actually admitted to the ABD off the record that '95% of speed cameras are sited for revenue generation'. Indeed, most local authorities do not maintain records to show where their accident blackspots are.

We are told that police services would of course need to receive a proportion of the fines to fund maintenance of existing sites and installation of new ones, instead of the total amounts going to the Treasury as at present. But there is a principle of British justice that the dispenser of justice should have no interest in its dispensation; does this not smack of 'pyramid financing'? Clearly, motorists are unworthy of even the rudiments of natural justice.

The prelude to the full nationwide abuse of this technology is 'Operation Victoria', shortly to be unleashed on the unsuspecting citizens of Lancashire, and so called by ACPO after the Australian state which has become notorious worldwide for unbridled abuse of speed camera technology. Below are comments on the Victoria experience distilled from Australian and UK motoring magazines:

Relatively soon after their introduction in the various Australian states, promises were made that cameras would only be located at accident blackspots and would be signposted... This lasted about six months before the signs were removed and ever more devious methods were devised to disguise the traps (including the use of bogus broken-down vehicles)... Shortly thereafter, the Victoria Police Association was able to negotiate a 10% increase in police numbers and a 25% increase in salaries - on the basis that this could be funded entirely from increased speed camera revenue... An internal police report leaked to the media at the same time dismissed the idea of placing speed cameras at accident blackspots, saying 'Insufficient numbers of motorists would be booked, making the cameras of little fund-raising benefit'.

There is the comforting thought that this could never happen in the UK but consider - speed camera convictions are easy money and they are soaring. Between 1984 and 1994, findings of guilt, fixed penalty notices and written warnings for dangerous, careless or drunken driving etc fell from 251,000 to 190,000. But for 'speed limit offences', they have risen from 256,000 to 602,000.

Meanwhile, casualty data are being massaged to legitimise the abuse of speed camera technology. Cameras are being attributed with all the credit for casualty reductions whereas - almost exclusively due to the efforts of the car manufacturers and traffic engineers - road deaths on average decreased by 140 per annum year-on-year over the 1965-96 period, with no significant improvement since cameras were introduced in 1991.

 

Notes for Editors