Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum by The Traffic Director for London (IT 160A)

  In sections 5.4 to 5.9 of my written evidence I outlined the progress of the bus lane enforcement camera project. On 9 December 1998 Members of the Committee asked about the "follow-up rates" for prosecutions after bus lane offences were recorded on the video cameras. This note gives full details of the processing of the incidents.

  The system involves:

    (i)  systems operators employed by me viewing and assessing/selecting infringements against Assessment Guidelines agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers Traffic Enforcement Technology Sub-Committee;

    (ii)  the operator gathering information about the registered keeper of the vehicle;

    (iii)  a further reviewing of the selected incidents by a police officer who authorises the issue of a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP);

    (iv)  staff at the Metropolitan Police Central Ticket Office (CTO) issuing Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty to the driver of the vehicle; and

    (v)  staff at the Fixed Penalty Office (FPO) receiving the paid fines.

  In addition, any offenders who ultimately receive a summons for the alleged offence will be dealt with by the Magistrates Courts.

  All incidents are recorded on the tapes and are viewed by system operators who identify infringements. As a result of the process outlined in the paragraph above, approximately 50 per cent of incidents viewed are disregarded for a variety of reasons, which include:

    (a)  Technical reasons under the Assessment Guidelines, such as the vehicle registration plates are indistinct as a result of the vehicle being out of range of the camera, or there is insufficient video footage.

    (b)  Non-technical reasons in accordance with the Assessment Guidelines, for instance a minor infringement (a vehicle just "clipping" a lane), or if there is a traffic warden in the vicinity.

    (c)  Details of the registered keeper of the vehicle are not available after referral of registration plate details, vehicle type and colour to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority. (No details of the registered keeper can be obtained in approximately 5 per cent of the total cases submitted to the DVLA.)

    (d)  The number of cases exceeds the ceiling which the CTO has set for processing bus lane camera incidents. (So far this has resulted in approximately 5 per cent of viewed incidents not being taken forward.)

  As a result, approximately 50 per cent of incidents viewed are disregarded and 50 per cent result in a NIP being issued.

  Of the NIPs issued, 93 per cent subsequently receive a Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty (£20 fine) and 7 per cent result in no further action, either because the driver of the vehicle cannot be identified or because of a representation outlining extenuating circumstances.

  Of the Conditional Offers, 94 per cent are paid and the remaining 6 per cent result in a summons. As a result of the above, approximately 2.5 per cent of the incidents viewed result in a summons.

  Various measures are in hand to improve camera performance, in order to reduce the number of incidents disregarded for technical reasons. In addition, I am developing an enhanced incident viewing and detection computer system which will assist both my own system operators and staff at the CTO and the FPO to process many more incidents. Once this development is complete the system will be able to process many more incidents. However, I remain concerned whether the police will be able to devote sufficient resources at the CTO to process the expected number of incidents as the system is installed London-wide. This concern could be allayed if an administration charge is added to the penalty, enabling the police to recover their administration overheads.

Derek Turner

December 1998

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