A report in The Times (9/8/10) claims that Britain’s most senior traffic policeman is at war with the government over a decision to cut funding for safety cameras that will put lives at risk.
Chief constable Mick Giannasi has warned ministers of a rise in fatal road accidents as councils switch off safety cameras because they can no longer afford to operate them.
The government has cut £38m from this year’s road safety budget and Mr Giannasi estimates that four out of five cameras will be obsolete within five years, adding that redundancies in back offices mean that enforcement is being curtailed.
Mr Giannasi, the chief constable of Gwent Police, heads the portfolio for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). He said that the government’s decision to cut 40% of the road safety grant paid to local authorities, coupled with a pledge not to fund new fixed cameras, had provoked “unintended consequences for road safety” as councils take cameras out of service.
He said: “We have invested heavily in infrastructure. There is a danger that it is dwindling away. I think a vacuum has been created and people are reacting to that inappropriately. If nothing is put in place, speeds will rise and casualties will grow."
Mr Giannasi believes that driving standards will deteriorate, child road safety programmes will be hit and the education of offenders will cease. He also said The Treasury will lose a “significant” revenue stream.
Mr Giannasi has written two letters to Mike Penning, the road safety minister, setting out his concerns. He said: “If this unacceptable situation is to be avoided, immediate action is essential… I cannot overstate the urgency of this situation and the potential damage that will be the consequence of inaction.”