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             FAQ - Frequently Asked Question on Speed Cameras
 

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Frequently Asked Question - Speed Cameras

What is the change to the National Safety Camera Programme?
Where does the income from safety camera fines go?
How do you ensure the accuracy and reliability of cameras?
What is the law governing safety cameras, speed limits and safety camera signs?
What happens if I am caught speeding by a safety camera?
What is the Department's guidance on the deployment of safety cameras?
Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns about an alleged speeding or red light offence?
What is the history of safety cameras?


The Road Safety Strategy


Tomorrow's Roads: Safer for Everyone - sets out the framework for delivering further improvements in road safety up until 2010. It contains more than 150 measures across ten key themes focusing on better education, better engineering and better enforcement. Safety cameras are one part of the much broader road safety strategy and of the Government's policy for addressing speeding.

What is the change to the National Safety Camera Programme?
On 15 December 2005 the Secretary of State for Transport announced the ending of the National Safety Camera Programme and netting off funding arrangement for cameras in England and Wales, which had enabled safety camera partnerships to recover the cost of speeding and red light enforcement from fine revenues.

Camera funding, activities and partnerships were integrated into the wider road safety delivery process from 1 April 2007. The move gives local authorities, the police and other local partners responsibility for the future deployment and operation of cameras. This allows them greater freedom to enforce in response to community concerns about speeding or at sites where there are speeding problems and a high risk that casualties will occur.


Where does the income from safety camera fines go?
The fine income from safety cameras is not retained by local partnerships. They therefore have no incentive to place cameras other than to improve road safety. All fine income goes to the Treasury's consolidated fund in the same way as other fines.


How do you ensure the accuracy and reliability of cameras?
Sophisticated traffic law enforcement devices require type approval by the Home Secretary before evidence from them can be used in court proceedings (Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988). The Road Traffic Act 1988 sets out equivalent requirements for type approving speed enforcement devices. The type approval process provides a public assurance of any equipment's accuracy and reliability.

Home Office type approval is only granted to devices that have a high degree of accuracy and reliability to satisfy rigorous testing by the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) and the police in the field. Testing ensures that all devices are robust, reliable and can produce accurate readings or images under a variety of extreme conditions. Type approval is granted to a particular kind of device with each individual device required to be manufactured to the same high standard.

There are two stages of the type approval system which all speed measuring devices must successfully complete before they can be used by the police for enforcement. The equipment is initially tested by the police as if in full operational use although no prosecutions are brought during the testing period. Once the police are satisfied that devices are of a sufficient standard to meet their needs the responsibility for testing passes to the HOSDB.

HOSDB's requirements cover such issues as storage, operating temperatures, portability, durability, weather proofing, and electro magnetic compatibility as well as matters such as accuracy and reliability. Independent scientific test houses carry out the testing. Only when a device has passed all these tests will a type approval Order be signed so that the police can use it for prosecution.

All cameras must have a current calibration certificate which can be submitted to a court if necessary. Partnerships are under obligation to ensure that cameras are correctly calibrated and meet all necessary guidelines issued by the Home Office and ACPO.


What is the law governing safety cameras, speed limits and safety camera signs?
The law does not require drivers to be warned about the presence of safety cameras. However, the Government wants drivers to know both the speed limit on any given stretch of road, and also that camera enforcement is taking place.

Drivers sometimes think that a speeding penalty is not valid if the route is not signed correctly with safety camera warning signs. This is not the case. The only signing that is required in law for a speeding offence to be valid is that the speed limit of the road must be properly signed. The placing or visibility of speed camera warning signs has no bearing on the enforcement of offences detected by safety cameras and does not provide any mitigation of or defence for an alleged speeding offence.


What happens if I am caught speeding by a safety camera?
It is a legal requirement that a Notification of Intended Prosecution should be received by the registered keeper within 14 days of an alleged offence. One exception is where the registered keeper is not the driver. For example, if the vehicle is registered to a car hire company or is a company car. In these circumstances the registered keeper is required to name the driver of the vehicle and there are no legal requirements stating that a notice must be sent to such a nominated driver within a certain time limit.

Under section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, the keeper of a vehicle is required to provide the police with information on who was driving when an offence was committed. It is an offence not to provide the police with such information unless the keeper can show that he/she did not know and could not with reasonable diligence have found out. These provisions are commonly used for offences detected by police speed cameras.

As an alternative to attending Court, most speeding offences can be dealt with by Fixed Penalty Notice. A fixed penalty ticket gives the alleged offender an opportunity to settle the matter without going to Court. It is a legal document that requires a written response and should not be ignored. In the unlikely event that a fixed penalty notice does not arrive at the address it was sent to, and a court summons issued, the matter should be taken up with the relevant safety camera partnership ticketing office.


What is the Department's guidance on the deployment of safety cameras?
The primary objective for camera deployment is to reduce deaths and injuries on roads by reducing the level and severity of speeding and red-light running.

Evidence from the independent evaluations of the National Safety Camera Programme (2000-2004) has continuously shown that the use of cameras has been effective when deployment was based upon locations where a specific level of Killed or Seriously Injured collisions and excessive speed had occurred.

The Departmentís guidance on the future deployment of cameras encourages local partnerships to continue to use the deployment criteria that operated under the national programme. However, partnerships are free to develop their own local deployment criteria to help demonstrate locally that a systematic approach to site selection is in place.

What is the Department's guidance on the visibility of cameras?
The National Safety Camera Programme was based on visible speed enforcement, ensuring maximum opportunity for drivers to keep to speed limits. The Departmentís guidance on the deployment of cameras recommends that road safety partnerships continue to follow this approach.

This element of the Department's guidance has no bearing on the enforcement of offences and non-compliance does not provide any mitigation of, of defence for, an alleged offence. Neither does it restrict or fetter the police's discretion to enforce covertly anywhere, at any time.


Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns about an alleged speeding or red light offence?
The Department is unable to comment on individual cases of alleged speeding. If you have received a notice of intended prosecution you should contact the relevant central ticket office. If you believe your fixed penalty is unsafe you should ask to have your case heard in court.

If you have concerns about the conduct of the partnership or its staff, you should contact the Partnership Manager. This person will ensure the necessary and appropriate steps are taken. He/she will provide details of the relevant partner should you need to seek further assurance.


What is the history of safety cameras?
The Road Traffic Act 1991 makes provisions relating to the use of automated cameras to detect speed and traffic light offences. This includes a power for highway authorities to install and maintain the equipment and enables Courts to accept evidence of speeding from type approved photographic equipment accompanied only by a certificate signed on behalf of the relevant police force.

A key barrier to rapid deployment of cameras was one of resource. As a result, in 2000, a system was introduced that allowed eight pilot areas to recover the costs of operating speed and red-light cameras (safety cameras) from fines resulting from enforcement (the netting off arrangements). In 2001, the vehicle crimes act legislation was introduced to extend the system to other areas. To facilitate these arrangements, and ensure that the safety camera programme operated in the most effective way, the enforcement of speed and red-light offences was delivered through safety camera partnerships.

The National Safety Camera Programme was rolled out to 38 safety camera partnerships in England and Wales between 2001 and 2004 and had a distinct function - to strengthen detection, enforcement and deterrence of speeding and red light offences at places on the road network with particular problems. The table below shows the number of cameras in place during the lifetime of the National Safety Camera Programme:

2006 is the number in the national programme as at 30/3/06.

The programme was dependent on highly visible enforcement meeting specific criteria which were established to ensure that the placing of cameras was justified in terms of road safety and cameras deployed where they were most likely to reduce excessive speeding and the numbers of people being killed and seriously injured.

As explained, the National Safety Camera Programme has now ceased. The Department has issued guidance and best practice advice on the deployment of speed cameras from 1 April 2007 (DfT Circular 1/07 - Use Of Speed And Red-Light Cameras For Traffic Enforcement: Guidance On Deployment, Visibility And Signing). This sets out the Governmentís intention of continued high visibility enforcement.

The guidance does not however restrict or fetter the policeís discretion to enforce covertly anywhere, at any time. The purpose of this activity is both to act as a general deterrent and specifically to catch and prosecute more persistent speeding drivers and riders.

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