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Camera Shy!!

August 18, 2010

 

Redcar, England – Fashionable trends can be strange things…..

Like safety cameras one minute everyone wants one next minute you could not give them away. That’s the problem when you let political rhetoric and dogma replace sensible policy.

That’s not to say that BRR is a lover of safety cameras, I’m not. But they are a useful road safety tool when deployed in a sensible way. However since we are now beginning to glimpse the ramifications of the UK Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, removal of funding  for safety cameras it would seem that the future enforcement of speed limits, using these devices, is going to be anything but sensible.

It would have been fine if Hammond had simple issued a diktat, no more safety cameras, but this is a democracy and he cannot do that. So instead he cut the grants that support them leaving us with typical fudge situation. Some county authorities had never had camera’s, some had already removed them, some have shut them down and some are using any means fair or foul to keep them operating

Some crafty road safety partnership managers, who want to keep themselves and their ex wooden top buddies in nice little jobs, i.e. maintaining the cameras etc, are writing to parish councils on their ‘patch’ saying for £10000ish a year rent you can keep the camera in your village. We will sort all the maintenance and issue the Notices of Intended Prosecution. You can raise the cash by sticking up your council tax, use the precept from the county council, or start-up your own nice little charity associated with all the good work you do with Speed Watch. Hey even join Dave Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ and apply for a grant.

Then of course we have quite lobby of the Department of Transport by Norfolk County Council and some authorities in West Yorkshire. They are seeking Government approval to return to the good old days of camera hypothecation. That’s all the income from camera fines kept at local level and used to fund camera costs and new cameras. So the more people you nick the more cash you have to install more cameras so you can nick more people and install more cameras etc etc. Back to the good days of over grown trees camouflaging fixed cameras and parking the mobiles in van dealerships then.

There’s a question here. Is this all about road safety or maintaining the road safety partnerships status quo while sticking two fingers up at Hammond? Frankly some of the stuff being written in the ‘professional’ magazines seems more about maintaining the voracity of the partnerships than about road safety. More about maintaining ‘my’ road safety charity than saving a life. We have built our camera empire, the enemy ‘common sense’ is at the gates but do not fear we will fight until our last breath or last finally salary pension!

What about the road users? At least under the last regime we had a sort of ‘system’. As far as cameras were concerned, they were everywhere and quite a few worked. Now a journey will become a sort of Russian roulette affair. Is that camera loaded, is it connected, is that a window cleaners van or does that white van contain two hunched ex coppers diligently nicking grannies for doing 31mph in a 30 limit.

The last word.

I’m a persuadable fence-sitting sceptic on safety cameras.

On one side. It’s quite easy, put together cause and effect. If you don’t speed you won’t get nicked. Look upon cameras as an educational tool, educating the errant speedster into more social acceptable behaviour.

On the other. A great quote from Paul Garvin, Chief Constable of Durham Constabulary. ”The pro-camera lobby, and a lot of the safety partnerships, deliberately misquote the statistics to try and mislead people to try and justify their position. I think it is disingenuous if we are really intent on reducing casualties on the road – as opposed to enforcing speed limits and dishing out lots of tickets.”

“More accidents are caused by inattention, drink driving, or nowadays, more by driving under the influence of drugs. And these statistics adopted by certain forces show a woolly area regarding the proximity of speed cameras. Some statistics are taken from an area 20 metres from a camera and others from a two-kilometre radius. The speed cameras issue is not a point of principle, it is a fact that they are pointless.”

The debate continues, and man it’s sure to be a long one!

© Back Roads Rider 2010

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. dave permalink
    August 19, 2010 3:58 pm

    Cameras are a victim of their own success. If the original premise of cameras had been stuck to – allowing traffic officers to go off and chase people driving like idiots or those with no insurance etc then it might have been ok but the minute the money started to roll in and traffic cops were reassigned to other duties drivers began to realise that the chances of being done for something other than speeding were minimal. Add into the mix transport policy that makes life for drivers more and more difficult and unpleasant and voila you get the situation we have now where by driving standards are in a terminal decline and there’s little chance of getting enough roads policing back to deal with it.

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