Road Safety News

Half of fixed site speed cameras are inactive

Sunday 5th November 2017

Various media sources reported over the weekend that only around half of fixed speed cameras on UK roads are switched on and recording details of speeding offences.

The story was originally broken by the Press Association, based on a FOI request to all 45 UK police forces and their speed camera partnerships.

The Press Association received responses from 36 forces which showed that of a total 2,838 fixed site speed cameras, just 1,486 - or 52% - are active.

Northamptonshire, Cleveland, Durham and North Yorkshire police forces said that none of their fixed cameras were switched on. 

Of the 272 cameras across Staffordshire only 14 are active, while in Derbyshire just 10 of 112 cameras are active.

Across Scotland, less than 29% of fixed cameras are switched on, whereas in West Yorkshire, Kent, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and Cheshire less than 25% of fixed cameras are active.

In contrast, all cameras in Suffolk and the City of London are operational.

Edmund King, president of the AA, told BBC News that getting caught on camera amounts to a ‘postcode lottery’.

Edmund King said: "Many of the empty yellow cases are due to cuts in road safety grants and the fact that digital cameras, although more effective, are very expensive.

"It has long been the case that cameras were moved between sites, depending on need. When it comes to the chances of being caught on camera, it is a postcode lottery.

"However, drivers should remember that lack of a yellow fixed camera doesn't mean they are immune from mobile hidden cameras. Best advice is stick to the limits rather than gambling on the yellow boxes."

Neil Greig, a director of IAM Road Smart, said there is “clear evidence” that fixed site cameras “are there for road safety reasons”.

Neil Greig added: "Each of these locations is a site that has got some kind of accident problem and that's why we want to be sure that there's protection there all the time for the people who live around those sites."

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns at Brake, told the Guardian that speed cameras are “a proven, cost-effective way of reducing deadly collisions and so it’s critical they are operational”.

He added that Brake is concerned so many cameras are switched off and “would urge they are urgently put back into action”.



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A bit of a negative view isn't it M? - I'm not convinced that every disqualified driver carries on driving, nor does everyone reaching 12 points not get banned. Also, some speeds are so high that it means a ban anyway, regardless of previous points.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

Unfortunately some would say that we no longer ban drivers for having a small number of penalty points say for speeding only and it is an issue that many drivers continue to drive ie not being banned by a court when they have over 24 points on their licence. It may be that they could lose their employment or lose their livelihood or their families would suffer or for some other social reason that the courts take a more lenient view. It also means that there are less disqualified drivers on our road. If every driver that has over 6 penalty points becomes automatically disqualified the numbers of disqualified drivers would quadrouple and there would definitely be more illegal drivers on our roads with the uproar, and carnage and concern from honest drivers that situation could cause.
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (3) | Disagree (1)

Yes I know Mr Worthington (can I call you m?) and that was naive of them - the potential benefit extends theoretically infinitely beyond the location of the camera as, whilst the excess speed is a problem, the person responsible - the 'speeder' - is a bigger problem in terms of general behaviour behind the wheel and the benefit of having him/her removed from the road after several offences is incalculable. It's a bit like getting a habitual drink-driver banned and off the road for a year - it would be naive and short-sighted to think the collision stats on the road where he/she was originally stopped would improve as a result, but it could well have prevented collisions where that driver would have otherwise have subsequently driven whilst under the influence. Can't be proven obviously, but common sense should tell us that it is the right thing to do. The traffic police are not going to first check the accidents stats on a road where they may see a driver driving suspiciously erratically before stopping the driver are they? They'll do it anyway.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (2) | Disagree (3)

Historiclly the purpose of the cameras was not only to deter drivers from exceeding the speed limit but primarliy to reduce the numbers of accidents at that location at the same time. That's why local authority advice was obtained to place camares where there was a history of accidents and to prevent the likelihood of them reoccuring as they would without this intervention. Stats have previously shown that speed in excess of the speed limit was only found in about 6% of collisions/incidents.
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (5) | Disagree (3)

Exceeding the limit is an offence anyway Dave and the authorities don't need to 'prove' anything by using speed cameras. My view is, if they play a part in getting the troublemakers off the road, which I think they do - like the enforcement of some other motoring offences, then fine - they 'work'. If you want to try and establish how many offenders have been taken off the road, or have mended their ways as a result of speeding prosecutions, then that could be some sort of 'evidence' for you to look into possibly.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (7) | Disagree (7)

This story completely misses the point. The effect of speed cameras seems likely to be much the same, whether there's a working camera in the box or not. The question is: "What is the effect of speed cameras on crash rates?"

I find it staggering that, 20 years on, the authorities still haven't proved whether speed cameras increase or decrease the number or severity of collisions. The fact that they may have spent more taxpayers cash estimating what the effect might be, rather than running scientific trials should further deepen our concern.

The fact that both sides (camera supporters and opponents) seem implacably opposed to obtaining proper evidence is a national disgrace. Surely everyone could agree that the results of scientific trials would settle the matter for good. That way we could prevent another 20 years of argument and, more importantly, start actually saving lives.
dave finney

Agree (11) | Disagree (6)

When Gatso cameras were all the rage where I live there were over 30 sites but only 6 operating cameras that were moved around all the time. The local paper use to be informed of which locations the cameras were active but that was eventually stopped. Now we may have just one or two camera devices left and they may be switched to various locations. Perhaps where the most monies can be made from their use. Some drivers know where they are as the camera white lines are still well maintained and painted but where camera stands are still in situ and not in use the white lines are deteriorating.
m.worthington Manchester

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

You have to recognise that the deterrent factor of empty boxes is as high as if they were working units, providing that this fact is not publicised! You don't have to have been stung to be frightened of wasps..
Derek Hertfordshire

Agree (14) | Disagree (1)

Doesn't everyone love slow news days?
David Weston, Corby

Agree (4) | Disagree (2)

If/when a speed camera achieves its purpose of reducing a localised speeding problem to below the threshold for intervention, then it ceases to be applicable. It is cheaper to leave an empty yellow box behind than to remove the box/post/wiring. I wonder how many of the switched off ones have been stood down for this reason?
Pat, Wales

Agree (11) | Disagree (2)

The press often confuse FOI enquiries which they themselves have made, with 'news' stories.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (9) | Disagree (3)