ONE of Yorkshire’s police and crime commissioners has warned that the use of speed cameras is being blighted by bureaucracy and the technology is not being effectively deployed to prevent road deaths.
Julia Mulligan, the elected commissioner who is charged with holding North Yorkshire Police to account, has claimed that while speeding motorists remain one of the biggest public concerns, a safety camera pilot in the county has been too slow to respond to the demands of communities.
The warning comes as the North Yorkshire force has unveiled three new camera vans which each cost £35,000 and will replace a single vehicle which was used in trials of the controversial monitoring devices.
Mrs Mulligan said: “Alongside anti-social behaviour, speeding is the biggest issue out there. It is the thing that I have been asked about again and again since I was elected in November. But the whole system is too bureaucratic, and the deployment of the cameras has been too slow.
“We have to find a way to respond to the communities who have expressed their concerns. The safety camera van has proved to be effective in the trials, but I do think we need to look at the protocol about exactly how and where the cameras are deployed.”
Mrs Mulligan has asked senior police officers to review how the force deals with speeding to make it easier for residents to raise concerns and streamline the response across the county’s 5,000-mile network of roads.
Latest figures have revealed there were 26,442 speeding violations since the pilot was launched in July 2011. Among the 368 motorists summonsed to court for speeding was a motorcyclist from Halifax caught at 144mph on the A63 near Selby. He was banned from driving for six months and fined £500.
But 82 per cent of the drivers and motorcylcists who were caught breaking the limit were offered the chance to attend speed awareness courses, rather than pay a fine and have their licence endorsed. The courses cost £93 – more than 50 per cent up on the cost of the £60 fine they would have faced.
The Yorkshire Post revealed in November 2011 that North Yorkshire Police receives a £35 levy from each payment to attend the courses which is then re-invested into road safety.
But a force spokeswoman maintained the courses are optional and provide motorists caught just over the speed limit with the chance to avoid having points put on their licence. She also stressed the speed awareness programme is not a money-making exercise, and the course fees are used to finance the workshops.
North Yorkshire had been the only area nationally which had not adopted either mobile or fixed-site cameras up until the launch of the pilot.
While it was announced yesterday the number of mobile cameras is being increased, there are no plans to introduce fixed site units at specific accident blackspots.
A spokeswoman for the 95 Alive road safety partnership revealed that 28 sites have been identified where the use of mobile cameras has been deemed appropriate. But none of the sites met the criteria for the use of fixed site cameras.
Data including the number of accidents and the severity of injuries is reviewed each year. While statistics for the last 12 months are being compiled, the Yorkshire Post understands casualty and accident rates are not expected to have risen significantly in the last year to justify introducing fixed site cameras.
One of the biggest concerns has been the number of motorcyclists who have died, although there has been a significant fall in fatalities since the cameras were introduced.
In 2010, 20 motorcyclists lost their lives on the county’s roads, while there were 11 fatalities in 2011 and just five last year.
Assistant Chief Constable Iain Spittal claimed the results of the pilot “fully justified” increasing the number of mobile cameras.