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The Telegraph news item is shown below.

Check out the figures for Dorset: speeding fines have increased by a factor of MORE THAN 7 in the last 8 years, and as anyone who drives around Dorset will know, we are seeing an appalling increase in road traffic accidents. Never has there been a stronger case for the Dorset "Safety" Camera Partnership to be shut down immediately.

Anger as fines from speed cameras soar

By James Kirkup and David Millward
Last Updated: 7:00am GMT 04/12/2007

Almost two million speeding tickets are being issued to motorists each year following Labour's vast expansion of the speed camera network, official figures disclosed last night.

  • Read the statistics for your area online
  • Your view: Do Britain's speeding laws need reform?

    Since the party came to power, the number of fixed penalty notices for speeding has almost trebled from 700,000 a year to more than 1.9 million, the Government statistics showed.

    Coupled with an increase in the basic speeding fine, this means speeding tickets are now raising almost £120 million a year - most of which is simply ploughed back into operating the cameras.

    But despite the significant increase in speeding penalties in the past 10 years, road deaths have fallen only marginally, while the number of deaths from drink-driving has remained stable.

    The figures triggered criticism from motoring groups and opposition politicians, who last night accused the Government of using motoring as a "cash cow". Drivers are already paying more than £1 a litre for petrol as prices soar.

    There were only a handful of speed cameras when Labour took office in 1997. Since 2000, when the Government created 38 "road safety partnerships," that total has soared. There are now about 6,000 cameras in England and Wales.

    The latest figures, released by the Home Office in response to a parliamentary question, showed the full extent of the increase in fines and gave a regional breakdown, highlighting how - in some parts of the country - speeding fines have increased more than tenfold.

    In 1997, motorists incurred 712,000 fines at £40 each, making them liable to pay out an estimated £28.5 million.

    In 2000, Labour increased the level of fixed-penalty notices for speeding to £60.

    In 2005, the most recent year for which the figures are available, 1.92 million fines were issued at £60 each, costing motorists an estimated £115.2 million.

    The increase in speeding fines imposed varies greatly between individual policing areas. In Nottinghamshire, 4,625 fines were issued in 1997 compared to 53,696 fines in 2005 while in the City of London, the number rose by almost 20 times, from 520 fines in 1997 to 10,275 in 2005.

    Theresa Villiers, the Conservative transport spokesman, accused Labour of bleeding motorists dry.

    She said: "These figures will lead many to wonder whether the Government is using fixed penalty notices just to raise revenue rather than making our roads safer.

    "Enforcing the law should be the overriding motivation behind speed cameras and penalties. They should not be used just as a cash cow.

    "The Government needs to rethink ways of improving road safety, including cracking down on uninsured drivers."

    Road deaths have fallen only fractionally over the period during which speeding tickets have increased and cameras proliferated. Some 3,172 people were killed on the roads in 2006, a fall of only seven per cent from 1998.

    The growing use of speed cameras also appears to have made no significant difference to drink-driving. There were 540 motoring deaths related to drink-driving in 1997. In 2004, the figure was 580. Last year, it had returned to 540.

    Paul Smith, of Safespeed, which campaigns against the use of speed cameras, accused ministers of "fining millions of motorists without making the roads any safer".

    He said: "They have a significant negative impact on road safety - they are actually making matters worse."

    Transport experts say police forces are now backing away from plans to increase the use of speed cameras still further.

    More than 28,000 people have signed a Downing Street petition calling for speed cameras to be scrapped and Mr Smith said that public anger had forced the Department for Transport "into retreat" on the issue.

    Neil Greig of the IAM Motoring Trust, the independent road safety organisation, said: "I don't think enough has been done to convince people of the need for these cameras. When you look at the huge number of people being caught like this, the message isn't getting through."

    However, Jools Townsend, the head of education at Brake, a road safety charity, defended the cameras and fines.

    She said: "Research shows that speed cameras reduce casualties on the roads where they are placed. If you break the speed limit you are endangering lives and breaking the law and therefore it is entirely right that people who speed should be fined."

    The Department for Transport insisted that speed cameras do not raise additional revenue for central government. The money is collected by the court service and passes through the DfT to the safety camera partnerships.

    A spokesman said: "Safety cameras are there to save lives, not make money. The best safety camera is the one which takes no fines at all, but succeeds in making everyone slow down.

    "Independent research shows a 42 per cent reduction in the number of people killed or seriously injured at camera sites - that means more than 100 fewer deaths each year."

    The Government has tried to defuse the controversy by capping the amount of money partnerships can keep from the fines they raised.