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Communications so far with John Siddle, Lincs SCP




Dear Mr Siddle,

After thinking about this some more I would like to make some additional points:

Although you express an OPINION that speed cameras are effective without any EVIDENCE, you still seem unable to offer any proper estimations of effectiveness, or cost effectiveness, of these and other solutions, which of course is the starting point for making proper, balanced and competent decisions in the interest of reducing injuries and deaths.

I’d like to offer some EVIDENCE that suggests that speed cameras have not measurably improved safety, certainly that any suggestion that reduction of 90% has been achieved is total fantasy. And whether you agree or not, you have made that suggestion and seem keen for it to remain even though you have been informed how absurd and dangerous it is.

I’m not sure if it will be any comfort, but Lincs is not alone in this at all, the entire country has suffered from the financially driven road safety disasters of recent years. I mention this because I will look at some national statistics:

Although recording methods have been evolving, this document shows that in 2000, the contributory factors of exceeding the limit AND excessive speed for deaths was 26% for fatal, and 18% for serious:

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=DRn6seiQhx0C&pg=PA156&lpg=PA156&dq=%22stats+19%22+2000+exceeding+speed+limit&source=bl&ots=ItM97PPp6N&sig=7X8EZ4dpC4Qccw9Je6kx7NOhG2E&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dKDBUMuTBYm90QWmmoCADQ&ved=0CC4Q6AEwADgU#v=onepage&q=%22stats%2019%22%202000%20exceeding%20speed%20limit&f=false

And this shows that in 2011, the contributory factors of exceeding the limit AND excessive speed for deaths was 25% for fatal, and 14% for serious:

http://assets.dft.gov.uk/statistics/releases/road-accidents-and-safety-annual-report-2011/rrcgb2011-04.pdf

There are some conclusions which you cannot possibly dispute:

1.       Although the difference between these figures is clearly “in the noise”, even the most optimistic case for speed cameras could only claim that between 2000 and 2011 the percentages of deaths due to speed have reduced by 1% and serious injuries by 4%.  

2.       We can see the difference in the 2011 figures between “inappropriate speed” (which speed cameras do nothing about) and “exceeding the limit” (which is the only thing that they potentially could). For exceeding the speed limit, deaths are at 15% and serious injuries at 6%. Even if we speed limited every vehicle so that speeding simply was not possible, the figures cannot become negative so could not reduce by more than this. But the numbers still being caught speeding confirm that the obsession with speed cameras is far from an effective way to eliminate speeding anyway.

3.       The ineffectiveness of cameras proven above is backed up by other common sense observations such as: Did you know, drivers know where the cameras are, even the mobile ones, and slow down for them and speed up once they have gone past? This is why those who regularly offend the worst, the determined speeders, racers, road ragers, dangerous overtakers, etc. actually like them very much because it allows them to do what they want on 99% of road space.  What about moments of full throttle madness, how does a fine landing on the doormat days later help with that when a proper traffic cop could have stopped and investigated the problem immediately? It is clearly these extreme speeding offences that everyone would like to see properly targeted that account for the majority of speeding injuries and deaths, not the kind of speeding you and other “safety” camera partnerships target.  

4.       If we just looked at the FACTS we would see that 65% of injuries come from simple driver error, failing to look, etc. If we just reduced this by 15% (which actually seems achievable) it would STILL be by far the largest factor in ksis at 50% but we would have reduced ksis by the same amount as if we had entirely eliminated them due to speeding which speed cameras will clearly never come close to achieving. Why do you do nothing about by far the largest opportunity to reduce deaths and serious injuries? Is it because you can’t make any money out of it, by any chance, or is it because you are so dizzy with the amount of money you are taking from normal safe drivers that you never bothered to even think about it? Have you thought about the negative effects (http://www.dorsetspeed.org.uk/news/neg.aspx)?

 

It seems quite possible based on the evidence and reasoning that I have provided THAT SHOWS THAT SPEED CAMERAS HAVE DONE NOTHING to significantly reduce ksis that we could send all speed cameras including mobile ones for scrap, thereby reducing clutter and starting to reverse the destruction of public confidence in the police and the law, spend a few quid on a few signs saying things like “please drive carefully”, and end up with fewer total people killed and seriously injured on our roads. Goodness only knows what saving could be made if we had a modern, proactive, competent, professional, honest, ethical approach.

Now, in the light of all this, do you see how naïve, absurd, dangerous, misleading, incompetent, immoral and wrong clinging on to the statements like “injuries have reduced at speed cameras by up to 90%” really is even if not factually incorrect?

Regards, Ian Belchamber

 

 
 
 
 
 
Sent: Thursday, December 6, 2012 7:35 AM
Cc: customer_services@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; Cllrm.hill@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrp.bedford@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrd.brailsford@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrk.clarke@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrn.cooper@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrm.exton@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrr.newell@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrr.singleton-mcguire@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllra.stokes@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllre.strengiel@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; cllrm.tinker@lincolnshire.gov.uk ; andrew.offord@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; lisa.norton@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; hayley.smith@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; media@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; tony.diggins@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; police.authority@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; richard.walker@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; kenneth.meanwell@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; michael.robinson@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; neil.rhodes@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; alec.wood@lincs.pnn.police.uk ; john.lavery@jpress.co.uk ; andy.hubbert@jpress.co.uk ; emnewmedia@jpress.co.uk ; idris.francis@btinternet.com
Subject: Re: Data - Speed reduction
 
 
 

Dear Mr Siddle,

Thanks for your reply, but again, it doesn’t take us forward.  In my complaint, I wrote “it seems you have attempted to mislead readers”.  I did not say that what you wrote was factually incorrect. I also wrote “Your statement quoted in the article might not specifically state that the camera alone achieved an 89% injury reduction, but that is clearly how it will be interpreted by many readers (some of whom will make decisions about which road safety methods they may ask / pay for)”.

The article I am concerned about quoted you as saying “Since the camera was commissioned in 2002 only one serious and one slight injury have occurred, an 89 per cent reduction.”

But you take it too far on your website. There is no doubt that the heading “Safety Camera Casualty Reduction” would of course lead readers to believe that these are claims for these reductions to be due just to cameras.

You completely ignored everything I wrote about making proper, informed, balanced road safety decisions. You seem to understand that it’s not just about cameras but if we believe what you are clearly trying to make us think, that cameras can produce up to 90% injury reductions, there simply isn’t room for anything else.  

So you have not in fact addressed any one of my concerns.

As you refuse to see it, I would like to try to help you to understand how inappropriate your position is that you think that everything is good because you have only quoted facts. Even if there are no factual errors, never have I seen a better example of “incomplete truth” and an omitted truth can fulfil the intent to deceive as good as a lie can.

There is (as I think you understand) no DIRECT link between casualty reductions and the presence of cameras, so the very fact that you are making that link, by stating before and after accident counts and NOTHING else (even if not factually incorrect) is deriving a result that is meaningless. It’s only purpose can be to deceive. This result is only legitimate if made with a statement like “accident counts can increase or decrease at any site for a number of reasons and not only due to the presence of speed cameras”. Why is the full truth such a problem for you?

What you are doing is a bit like someone offering a financial investment and promoting it only by saying “90% of those who have applied have become millionaires” when you knew full well that that wealth had come from something entirely different. Do you seriously believe that this would be ethical or acceptable, or that when found out, you would not receive a substantial fine from the FSA? The consequences of such an appalling falsification would be lost money – but the consequences of YOUR misleading statements and information can only be far worse – LOST LIVES, and indicates that your organisation is entirely self-interested and unfit for purpose in every way.

Please will you now deal with this properly and make sure that camera effectiveness is fully and correctly represented on your website and make some attempt to correct any dangerously misleading articles that you are aware of, such as the one I have mentioned.

If you refuse, please will you inform me of who your supervisor is so that I can escalate this complaint.

Regards, Ian Belchamber

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Dear Mr Belchamber,

 

Thank you for your recent letter outlining your views on speed cameras and the article you read, the content of which have been noted.

 

I acknowledge that a ‘massive falsification’ of effectiveness of any solution could be dangerous. However, I originally offered an apology ‘if’ there was an error in the statistics I had given because at that time I had not had an opportunity to fully investigate your claims. However, I have subsequently checked and the information I gave was accurate. It related to collisions from our database. There has been an 89% annual average reduction in casualties at that site compared to a five previous years baseline. This is a statement of fact. At no time have I stated, or inferred, that the camera is wholly responsible. Nor does the article quote me as claiming that the camera is solely responsible for the reduction because I did not say it. This was not a press release, it was an article written by a journalist. We do not have editorial rights over what is printed. The journalist asked two specific questions; ‘when was the camera commissioned?‘ and ‘what is the collision data for that site?’.  I responded to these questions. For reference, had the 3 year baseline used for camera installation been used, it would have shown a 91% reduction for that site.

 

 

Whilst the data I referred to was accurate the information on the KSI collisions on the website was indeed incorrect, there was in fact 1 more KSI collision, after camera installation, on the website data that should not have been on there. This was not to mislead but an error in data exporting (an excel spreadsheet ‘lookup’ error drawing information from the KSI casualty table rather than the KSI collision table) Thank you for highlighting this anomaly. As a result we have sample checked the camera site data against our ‘master’ database to confirm the error and have now revised all KSI collision data published on the website. This data is only held on each camera site and is not summarised anywhere else. Due to this error, the published KSI collision figures for each camera site could have been shown as lower, if there were multiple KSI casualties as a result of a collision. This would therefore under represent, not exaggerate the reduction in KSI collisions.

 

 

Similarly, the title of the graph you have highlighted from the website, clearly states ‘% Casualty Reduction at Lincolnshire Safety Camera Sites’. This shows the percentage reduction in KSI casualties and all severity collisions at sites where cameras have been installed compared to the baseline assessment data of three years prior to installation. Again, these are statistical facts.

 

 

At the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership (LRSP) we have always maintained that in road safety, speed is not the only problem and speed cameras are not the only solution. We have not suggested and would not suggest that ‘all dangerous places are covered by cameras.’ However, I consider that where a camera is sited at a location that has a history of high speeds and collisions, if someone slows their vehicle at that location allowing them better reaction times therefore increasing their ability to assess potential danger, than this is likely to reduce the chance of collisions occurring at that site in the future. As such, I believe that cameras can be effective at helping to reduce collisions as part of a wide ranging and comprehensive road safety strategy.

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

John Siddle

Communications Manager

Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership

Witham House

The Pelham Centre

Canwick Road

Lincoln

Lincolnshire

LN5 8HE

 

Reception 01522 805800

Direct 01522 805812

Mob 07768 793247

Fax 01522 805803

e-mail john.siddle@lincolnshire.gov.uk

web www.roadlincs.com

'Working together to make the roads of Lincolnshire safer for all'.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2012 5:40 PM
Subject: Lincolshire Road Safety Partnership
 
 
 
Hello,
 
I have become aware of some seriously incompetent and misleading information, publicity and policy from LRSP.
 
Road Safety is an area in which such failings cannot be tolerated, as any performance below optimum / dishonesty etc. will result in more people being killed and injured than there should be.
 
Further, have clearly explained these failings to LRSP, it seems that they are attempting to ignore them rather than face them and fix them. This is even more serious.
 
I will copy the communications below, my last message at the top sent on the 19th Nov has not been answered.
 
Please can you acknowledge this in the next couple of days and let me know when I should receive a full response.
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
 
 
 
 
 
 
Dear Mr Siddle / LRSP  / freedom of information,
 
As I mentioned, for the purposes of better road safety decision making which will save life, there does need to be a proper resolution to this.
 
As well as the news article in which it seems you have attempted to mislead readers I also notice that the LRSP website contains further misinformation about camera effectiveness.
 
is the title "Safety Camera Casualty Reduction" and a PDF chart is available which seems to suggest casualty reductions due to cameras of up to 80%.
 
 
To get to the point, this suggests to anyone with any real experience of maths, statistics and safety work either an unimaginable level of incompetence or a deliberate and persistence intention to deceive, whichever it is the only conclusion can be that LRSP  is completely unfit for purpose. Your lack of enthusiasm to answer the concerns below is worrying in itself.
 
Please will you respond to this by the end of this week.
 
 
 
 
 
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUEST
 
In preparation for the possibility that this is not properly resolved in a reasonable period of time, I ask, under freedom of information if necessary, what the first stage complaints process is for a formal complaint against John Siddle, and for a more general formal complaint against LRSP if different.
 
 
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber
 
 




(sent Saturday, 10th Nov 2012)
Dear Mr Siddle,
 
Thanks for your reply, although you really have not properly understood the concerns. Your statement quoted in the article might not specifically state that the camera alone achieved an 89% injury reduction, but that is clearly how it will be interpreted by many readers (some of whom will make decisions about which road safety methods they may ask / pay for), and having seen a great deal of exaggeration of speed camera benefit generally by those who benefit by them usually by improved job security, I wonder if this is how it is intended to be.
 
Although you are clearly aware of other factors, it's the article I have referred you to that concerns me.
 
Despite all the points you mention below, some of which may have merit, the issue is this: Every method has an "effectiveness", be it cameras,  engineering, VAS, etc etc. As everything is limited by a finite cost limit, his "effectiveness" could be simply described as a ratio of injuries reduced divided by cost. It is therefore critically important that we properly understand the "effectiveness" of each and every solution, so that, for example, if solution 1 provides a reduction of 10 injuries per year per £10,000, and solution 2 provides a reduction of 20 injuries per year per £10,000, we know we should have a preference for solution 2 over solution 1.
 
So it matters critically that we know if a particular method reduces injuries by 5% or 20%. It certainly matters if those figures are wider apart, perhaps 0% and 89%. A  falsification of effectiveness (deliberate or otherwise) will result in wrong decisions being made and a proportion of lives being lost that would not have occurred without that falsification. This is simple fact, it is not something that you or I can agree of disagree with. If you dispute this, or fail to agree that it it serious and dangerous, you really should not be in any kind of safety work. 
 
As I have said, there is no possible way whatsoever that the impression being given in this article that the camera reduced injuries by 89% could possibly be anywhere near true. The statement made in this article is therefore badly misleading and dangerous. The article clearly promotes speed cameras and completely fails to mention over factors or methods.
 
Placing cameras based on where deaths have occurred is also fantastically simplistic. Whether a car leaving the road results in a death is just as likely to depend on where an acorn landed before cars even existed as it is the difference of 10 or 20 miles an hour. No road safety decisions should be made based on the emotional aftermath of terrible accidents. Every decision should be made by a proper and accurate understanding of the risks presented by the characteristics of a site, and a proper, accurate and honest understanding of the potential benefits of the potential solutions. Take a look at accident distribution one year to the next, and although there will be groupings, the exact locations of those accidents will vary by more than the immediate area controlled by a speed camera and the patterns will change quite dramatically. Accidents resulting in deaths are incredibly random events and just following them around with a speed camera is futile, although it looks good statistically as the probability is that if there are one or two deaths in an area one year there won't be next year.
 
You seem to be suggesting that all dangerous places are covered by cameras, and that once a driver leaves a camera, the "danger has passed" Never have I seen a more naive statement made by anyone about anything.
 
To demonstrate my point about cost effectiveness: 
If this camera, or any other, HAS reduced injuries by 80% or 89% that would be fantastic - but even then, if a VAS had reduced them by 70%, but as they cost 10th of a camera, you could have achieved 70% savings in 9 other locations, then using a camera here, EVEN IF 90% INJURY REDUCTION WAS ACHIEVED, was an appallingly bad decision.
 
You HAVE TO KNOW the cost effectiveness of the solutions accurately. I am most concerned that I would have to spell this out to someone in a senior position in any organisation, let alone one that claims to be in safety work.
 
So please don't apologise if the reduction might have been inaccurate, please tell us actually what the reduction achieved BY THIS CAMERA actually was and explain your method - and please don't ignore the 10 or so other factors that you are aware of, and in addition, that only about 10% of road injuries even have speed as a factor, primary or secondary.
 
Please also acknowledge that you do now understand that a massive falsification of effectiveness of any solution is in fact dangerous.
 
And if your new estimation of effectiveness of this camera varies dramatically from that suggested by this article, please release a new statement correcting it.
 
There does need to be a proper resolution to this.
 






 

From: John Siddle
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2012 6:44 PM
Subject: RE: speed camera - 89% injury reduction?

Dear Mr Belchabber,
 
The reduction of 89% at that site was compiled using the data from our records, if there is an inaccuracy in the data or it varies from what is published on our website, I can only apologise. I am not aware of promoting one road safety solution over another and feel that a safety solution in one area may not lend itself to another (area) I certainly dispute comments of 'serious and dangerous implications' as an exaggeration.
 
Yes, we do account for the many variances of why a collision occurs. Road engineering, which we play a major role in, has an effect as do many other things including the weather which you failed to mention in your e-mail. I also note that you think drivers plan their routes to avoid speed cameras, interesting thought!
What I am sure about is that one, of the many, causation factors is speed. With a reduction in speed the injuries lessen, the safety features built into vehicles stand a better chance of saving the persons life and a driver will perhaps have more time to take avoiding action. Slowing the car down at a single point where the camera is sited may sound pointless to you but that is the point - to slow a speeding driver at a point where death or injury have previously occurred. If they chose to speed up after that then so be it, the danger area has past by - the camera has done its job. That particular camera, which I take you are not familiar with, is sited near junctions that, as the article states, emerging traffic from Moy Park and associated roads has some difficulty in getting out. You are also probably not aware the camera is sited in a very small village that, at certain times of the year, carry holiday makers to the coastal area. Breached either side by national speed limits the temptation for drivers not to slow down through the village is great. The camera helps with speed limit compliance, numbers of collisions and severity of injuries have reduced.
 
I am sure that as a member of the public if any reduction in casualties is achieved, by speed cameras, road engineering, road safety education in schools, driver programmes for mature drivers, young drivers, new drivers and campaigns that get the message out so people are more aware of road safety and their own mortality, we should be embrace it.
 
You point out that drink driving is also a primary causation factor, I am currently designing our latest drink drive campaign for the festive season, we address all causation factors with the same approach - where we can do something about it, we will!
 
As I stated, my apologies if the error in our figures, but certainly having and 80% reduction and a 92% reduction in the incidents of vehicles above the speed limit will help in making the community in that village feel safer when they venture out and for that I make no apologies.
 
Regards
 

John Siddle

Communications Manager

Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership

Witham House

The Pelham Centre

Canwick Road

Lincoln

Lincolnshire

LN5 8HE











From: Ian Belchamber [mailto:ian@belchamber.net]
Sent: 05 November 2012 20:26
To: John Siddle
Subject: speed camera - 89% injury reduction?

Dear Mr Siddle,
 
I saw an interesting news article about a speed camera and I hope you don't mind answering a couple of queries:
 
 
 
 
I quote, "John Siddle of the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership (LRSP), said: “Since the camera was commissioned in 2002 only one serious and one slight injury have occurred, an 89 per cent reduction."
 
It seems that the impression is being given that this camera has reduced injuries by 89%. This seems a very impressive reduction, but I have some concerns:
 
1. Your data shows 2 serious and one slight
2. With such low frequencies, the confidence in this result must be very low?
3. How have you accounted for other possible reasons for reductions, such as: vehicle safety improvements, roads engineering improvements, recession, rocketing fuel and insurance costs pricing out younger drivers, drivers diverting from camera sites, accident relocation, normal negative trend, regression to mean, under-reporting, to mention just a few, or do you believe that none of these things have any effect?
4. Is such a reduction even remotely possible, with speed as a factor in about 6% of ksis and 15% of deaths (including as a secondary factor where the primary might have been drunk driving, criminal activity, etc)? Even if ALL speeding were to be entirely eliminated, is such a reduction claim credible? How can fixed cameras which cover an insignificant proportion of road space reduce speeding by any significant amount anyway? Are you aware that many drivers just put their foot down as soon as they have gone past?
 
I'm sure that as a road safety professional you will realise the serious and dangerous implications of falsely promoting any one road safety solution over another, and will be keen to either correct these statements if as it seems they are in error, or explain the above apparent conflicts if you are correct.
 
Regards, Ian Belchamber