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Dorset Road Safe finances – serious lack of clarity

 

One of the main accusations against speed cameras has been that they are to raise money for the authorities that set them up and run them. No, say the Dft, no, say the “safety” camera partnerships, “It’s not about money, because all money goes to central government”.

But despite the misleading assurances listed below, it is now becoming crystal clear that proceeds from speed cameras and other “road safety” activities are in fact largely available to the local authorities that set them up, therefore amongst other problems prejudicing what should be objective assessment of road safety policies. If you dig deep, you will find a Dorset Police Authority document which shows for example that £1.4 million was collected last year from driver awareness courses. This is likely to shoot up close to £2 million this year due to a staggering and unjustified 43% increase in the fee, from £70 to £100. But Dorset Road Safe and the DfT don’t want you to know about it, and tell us that no money is returned to local authorities, to avoid any motivation for the authorities to use speed cameras to raise money!

Most of us were under the impression that our taxes are efficiently used for adequate policing and that proceeds from speed cameras etc. went to the government to prevent any confusion, suspicion, conflict of interest or abuse, because that was what we were told.

We were wrong. The motivation that Dorset Road Safe and the DfT are so keen to tell us does not exist, does! And there are other motivations – equipment suppliers, jobs, saving face for those who were too easily persuaded of the benefits of speed cameras, etc. The simple fact that it is so easy still to speed on the 99.9% approx. of road space not in front of a camera suggests that the claimed benefits simply aren’t possible. And is all this motivation distorting road safety decisions?  The following observations (mostly relating to the Greed on Green), for example, seem to be too much of a coincidence to indicate anything other than a deliberate attempt to manufacture high numbers of “offences” and profit:

  • Increasing of offence counts by not being too concerned how long it takes for a NIP to arrive, so they can keep you speeding for longer and get 2 or 3 fines in the pipeline before you even know what’s happening.
  • Reduction of a limit, on what was designed as, and has the feel of, a national speed limit multilane main road and didn’t have an accident problem anyway, down to 30
  • Retaining plenty of big 50 signs leading up to the short 30 limit in front of the camera adding to the “faster” road feel.
  • Also a road that carries a good quantity of out of area traffic to a ferry terminal
  • A new enforcement method that people are not familiar with
  • Attempting to prevent news getting out by trying to claim FOI exemption
  • When it is confirmed that a single camera is doubling the previous entire DRS income, no new assistance to help drivers to slow.
  • Extremely poor and inconsistent communication
  • Lack of proper policing, more expensive and with less cash return even if it would be much more effective at reducing casualties
  • Totally excessive and sharply rising “Driver awareness” course fees
  • And now the final piece of the puzzle: Dorset authorities can access the profits of the whole process, even though they tell us they don’t, through driver awareness courses, for which they charge more than the course should cost several times over.

Never has such a blatant abuse of responsibility by local authorities been more clearly demonstrated. Unless the entire system can be properly cleaned up, ALL proceeds including any that result from courses, etc. must go to central government. Then local authorities can decide on speed limits, safety policy, etc. without being distracted by what will make the most money. Then we might see more effective road policing and proper reductions in accidents, deaths and injuries.

 

 
Income from Driver Awareness courses in Dorset, available to Dorset authorities

 

In the quotations below, they are usually careful to use the word “fine”. But whether a “fine” or a “course fee”, it’s all money!

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http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/speed_camera_enforcement_on_hole

5. Dorset has never retained "revenue" from safety cameras. All fines paid go to the Treasury Consolidated Fund.

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http://www.dorsetroadsafe.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=363&Itemid=130

8.         IS HOLE’S BAY A “GREED ON GREEN” CAMERA 

Contrary to recent publications by anti-camera websites and individuals, if a fine is paid by an offender for exceeding the speed threshold at Hole’s Bay or any other camera site the money goes to the Treasury Consolidated Fund, the fine paid does not and never has gone to the DSCP or the relevant council.  

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http://www.dorsetroadsafe.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=10&Itemid=130

Dispelling the Myths   

Myth: Safety cameras are just an easy way of making money for the police.

FACT: Safety cameras are there to save lives and make the roads safer not to make money.

Neither the police nor any other partners in the safety camera scheme make any profit from the speed and red light fines.  All fine revenue is passed to the Treasury.  Safety Camera Partnerships are funded by a grant from Central Government. This means there is no incentive for safety camera partnerships to place cameras anywhere other than where they are needed to improve road safety.

……

Cameras are not hidden to catch drivers out or placed where they will record the most speeding offences. Cameras are there to encourage motorists to drive within the speed limit so the most successful cameras are those which record the LEAST number of offences not the most and in doing so save lives.

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Extracts from emails from Mr Gray, Road User Safety Division, DfT:

22nd June 2009:

“However, the claim you make about a safety camera being used by Dorset Safety Camera Partnership to raise revenue for “new toys” does not make sense as all fine revenue is passed to the Treasury.”

30th June, 2009:

“It is clear from your on-going correspondence that however many times I explain the road safety benefits of safety cameras you will continue to believe they are placed only to raise revenue. This, of course, is entirely up to you, but the fact remains that revenue raised by cameras is passed to the Treasury and not retained by safety camera partnerships.  Therefore no partnership, including Dorset, has any incentive to place cameras other than for road safety reasons.”

1st Feb, 2010:

“All speeding fine revenue is passed to the Treasury Consolidated Fund.  Therefore there is no motivation or incentive for Dorset Safety Camera Partnership to place safety cameras other than for road safety reasons.”

3rd June 2010:

“The Department want to encourage local authorities to introduce the most effective solution to address road safety problems, rather than simply lowering speed limits…..

Cameras should be used only where they are effective in tackling a safety problem.”

6th Aug 2010:

“Thank you for your email of 8 July about the use of a safety camera at Holes Bay road, Poole. Safety camera placement and operation are matters for local road safety partnerships.” (Ian – nothing to do with you then Mr Gray, of the Road User Safety Division, Department for Transport?!)