Digital safety cameras, funded by motorists attending speed awareness courses, are replacing ageing film cameras, according to The Daily Telegraph.
More than half of safety camera partnerships are now installing new digital cameras, with the number set to increase by nearly 50% in the next 12 months.
Of the 33 partnerships who responded to inquiries from The Daily Telegraph, 21 confirmed that they were embarking on a comprehensive renewal programme over the next two to five years, while another six are still considering their next move. Four partnerships – Cheshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, Northants and Nottinghamshire – said they expected the number of prosecutions to increase.
Unlike the older machines, the new digital cameras never run out of film and can take pictures indefinitely. According to The Daily Telegraph, their running costs are also lower, as police officers are not needed to collect and develop the film.
Instead, the information from the camera is sent automatically to a control centre. Once the car has been identified from its number plate a notice of intended prosecution is sent out.
The Telegraph says that the safety camera programme appears to have been rescued by the spread of speed awareness courses, with 1.8 million motorists attending a course since January 2010. While speeding fines go to the Treasury, fees for speed awareness courses are retained by police forces and safety partnerships.
DCC Suzette Davenport, chair of ACPO’s National Roads Policing Operations Forum, said: “Using technology to make the roads safer for all drivers is an excellent example of police moving with the times.”
The new cameras have not been warmly received in some quarters.
Keith Peat, spokesman for the Association of British Drivers (ABD), said: “This is entirely predictable. The fact of the matter is the road safety industry, which includes the manufacturers of the devices and the partnerships, have a vested interest.
“These cameras can’t see how an accident happened, they can’t see whether you were drunk or if you were careless.
“This Government is continuing the war on the motorist and it is counterproductive.”
Stephen Hammond, the newly appointed transport minister, said: “It is for local authorities and police to decide whether or not to use speed cameras and how they wish to operate them.
“However, we do not believe that cameras should be used as the default solution in reducing accidents, nor as a way of raising revenue.”
Click here to read the full Telegraph report.