Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex III


1.  The History of Speed Enforcement

  1.1  Enforcement cameras were first introduced into the UK in 1991. A number of research studies have proved beyond doubt that, together with engineering and education initiatives, they can be an extremely effective mechanism for reducing road casualties. A cost-benefit analysis in 1996114 showed that cameras paid [114]for themselves five times in the first year of operation alone.

  1.2  There is an established relationship between reducing speed and reducing collisions: research by TRL[115] in 1993 showed that just a 1mph reduction in speed reduces collisions by 5 per cent. This figure has now been validated in a more recent study in 2000 also by TRL[116].

  1.3  In December 1998, the then DETR, Home Office and Treasury agreed that fine income from speed and red light cameras could be used to fund additional camera enforcement—a recommendation from the original 1996 report. This process was termed hypothecation, although "netting off" is a more technically correct term and will be used here. Effectively, this means that enforcement activity is self-financing and, therefore, cost-neutral to the agencies involved including the police.

2.  The "netting off" project

  2.1  Because of the complexity of the arrangements needed to make netting-off work, it was decided to pilot the approach in a number of areas. The pilot aimed to demonstrate how best to develop a workable relationship between local partnerships comprising local police forces, highways authorities, magistrates' courts and, where appropriate, the Highways Agency.

  2.2  The large number of government departments and agencies involved necessitated the formation of a project board to oversee the scheme. This has representatives from ACPO, DTLR, Home Office, Highways Agency, LCD, Welsh Assembly, Scottish Executive, CPS, County Surveyors society (representing local government interests) and Treasury. This is the first time that all of these departments and agencies have worked together on a national project of this scale and the arrangement has worked very well.

  2.3  In 1999, 13 areas submitted bids to pilot the scheme and the board selected eight to reflect a balance of geographies, casualty problems and also different approaches to enforcement. The areas chosen were Cleveland, Essex, Lincolnshire, Nottingham, Northamptonshire, South Wales, Strathclyde and Thames Valley.

  These pilots went live in April 2000.

3.  Results from the first year of operation

  3.1  Speed

  3.1.1  In order to monitor the effect of enforcement on speeding, surveys were conducted both before and at various intervals after the introduction of cameras. Data was collected at over 100 of the camera sites and involved over 800 separate speed surveys throughout the year.

  3.1.2  These confirm previous research studies that prove cameras do reduce speed and, over time, a consequential reduction in casualties should be expected.

  3.1.3  On average the percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit at pilot camera sites reduced from 55 per cent to 16 per cent.

  3.1.4  Excess speed (more than 15mph over the speed limit) at camera sites has virtually been eliminated. The percentage of drivers exceeding the speed limit by more than 15mph at camera sites has reduced from an average of 5 per cent before enforcement to just 1 per cent afterwards.

  3.1.5  The increase in enforcement has reduced the average speed at these sites by 5.6mph.

  3.2  Effect on casualties in the camera sites

  3.2.1  The 1996 cost benefit study, referred to earlier, proved that speed cameras reduced casualties by around 28 per cent (red-light cameras by 18 per cent) at camera sites. The eight pilot areas have been monitored to assess whether or not they could demonstrate a similar reduction in casualties.

  3.2.2  Before and after casualty data has been analysed for over 250 sites.

  3.2.3  In the first year, on average there were 35 per cent fewer collisions at camera sites (compared to a three-year average). This means there were 379 fewer collisions at the selected sites as a result of increased enforcement.

  3.2.4  Similarly, there were 47 per cent fewer people killed and seriously injured at the camera sites. On the basis of historical trend data it is estimated there were 109 fewer people killed or seriously injured as a result of increased enforcement. Evidence from South Wales and Cleveland also indicate that the initiative has been particularly successful in reducing casualties among those most at risk from road collisions—children and pedestrians.

  3.2.5  Using DTLR estimates it is possible to estimate that £27 million has been saved by the reduction of fatal and serious casualties at these sites.

  3.2.6  On the evidence collected to date, the cameras are having a substantial impact—particularly in those areas that have a significant speed and casualty problem. This strengthens the accepted wisdom that cameras should be located in high-speed, high-casualty sites.

  3.3  Effect on casualties in the wider partnership area

  3.3.1  It was not expected that a crackdown on speeding at certain casualty black spots would have an immediate effect on casualties in the partnership area as a whole (as opposed to specific camera sites). However, taken together, the pilot areas have observed a decline in both casualties and collisions. Not all of this should be claimed as a direct result of the additional camera enforcement— most areas had a strategy that comprised education and engineering as well as enforcement. However, at least some of the decrease is likely to be attributable to cameras and associated publicity.

  3.3.2  In total, the number of people killed and seriously injured in the eight pilot areas is down by 18 per cent.

  3.3.3  The total number of collisions in the eight pilot areas is down by 6 per cent.

  3.3.4  Initial comparison with published RAGB data on the first nine months of the pilot (April to December 2001) suggests that the pilot areas are showing a reduction in fatal and serious injuries which is twice that for the rest of the UK.

  3.3.5  Although the eight pilot areas were originally set up for a period of two years, it soon became obvious that the results were in line with previous research studies. A decision was made, therefore, to push ahead with introducing primary legislation to allow the scheme to be introduced nationally. This has now been achieved and a clause was included in the Vehicles (Crime) Act.

4.  National roll-out

  4.1  On 13 August 2001, the Minister of Transport announced the Government's intention to introduce the scheme nationally.

  4.2  In October 2001, the project board accepted bids from seven additional areas to join the scheme. These are Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, North Wales, Staffordshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Warwickshire.

  4.3  A further 12 areas have submitted bids to join the scheme in April 2002 and it is expected that all areas will be accepted on to the scheme within two years.

  4.4  In order to be accepted onto the scheme, areas must first form strong local partnerships comprising the local highways' authorities, the courts and the police. Some areas are also partnering with the local health authority since the scheme has proved to have an impact in reducing bed days.

  4.5  To join the scheme, areas must present a robust case to the project board. This sets out in great detail:

    —  exactly where the enforcement activity will take place;

    —  the casualty history at each of these sites over the last three years (particularly fatal and serious collisions);

    —  the vehicle speeds (as measured by surveys) to prove that there is a speeding problem at these sites and to assess the impact once enforcement commences; and

    —  the method of speed enforcement

  4.6  This is the first time that there has been any national control over camera locations. This was to prevent accusations that cameras were being located either for revenue-generating or for political purposes.

  4.7  In addition, each area must include within their case:

    —  a statement that each of the cameras will be well signed and highly visible;

    —  a detailed breakdown of the costs that are expected to be incurred (which will be paid by DTLR in the form of a grant); and

    —  a detailed communications plan, setting out how each partnership intends to educate drivers about the dangers of speed.

  4.8  Following acceptance on to the scheme, all of the costs associated with speed and red-light camera enforcement are now recoverable.

  4.9  In order to support the development of the bids and analysis of the impact, DTLR have contracted with external consultants to provide advice and guidance to areas so as to maximise the road safety benefits. In addition, a national communications manager has been recruited to ensure that there is a common national message. This builds on the excellent work that has been done in the eight pilot areas.

5.  Public Perception

  5.1  There has been a large number of research studies into attitudes to cameras and these have been replicated by the partnerships involved in the safety camera project. Broadly speaking, attitudes to cameras is very positive. A survey carried out by the South Wales partnership, for example, based on almost 6,000 respondents, showed that 85 per cent believed that the speed of vehicles decreased with the use of safety cameras and that most respondents (83 per cent) were in favour of such cameras. Lincolnshire carried out a similar survey on the basis of a random sample of people from the electoral roll and 1,452 questionnaires were returned (40 per cent response rate). The results showed that 89 per cent supported the use of safety cameras as a means of reducing road casualties and 88 per cent of respondents (1,223 people) agreed with the statement that the primary aim of safety cameras is to save lives. The results of all these surveys are shown in the table below:

Previous survey
Thames Valley
Average of new surveys
"Fewer accidents are likely to happen on roads where cameras are installed" (% agree)
"Cameras mean that dangerous drivers are now more likely to get caught" (% agree)
"Cameras are an easy way of making money out of motorists" (% agree)
"Cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the limits, not punish them" (% agree)

  5.2  The results from these surveys are supported more generally, by a survey by the insurance company Direct Line which commissioned MORI to carry out 2,000 interviews nationwide to assess public attitudes towards speed cameras in July 2001. The key findings from the interviews carried out by MORI were the vast majority of people (70 per cent) think that well placed cameras are a useful way of reducing accidents and saving lives. 89 per cent of respondents said that safety cameras made them think more carefully about how fast they are driving.

  5.3  Northamptonshire were the only project to appoint a fully dedicated Marketing/Communications Officer. Radical ground-breaking ways of promoting the project were delivered including the use of local radio, papers, bulletins and the Force website to proactively publish the locations of the cameras on the designated routes. Using a means known as "Public Service Announcements" locations of the cameras were announced daily. This was combined with the production of route-specific leaflets, which provided information, advice and guidance to the public as to the hazards that exist on particularly dangerous routes in the county.

  5.4  As a direct result of the success locally the DTLR decided it was necessary to appoint a National Communications Lead to support the national roll-out programme. The position is paid for by the "netting off" process and the appointment was made by DTLR in October 2001. Susan Beck reports to the Strategic Board of the National Safety Camera Scheme and she represents all the partners involved in the scheme at national level. Her objectives are:

    (i)  establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with the national press;

    (ii)  delivering the message of "casualty reduction" in a clear and concise way to the public;

    (iii)  offering support, guidance and expertise to all the partnerships involved in the "netting off" scheme on building and designing an effective communications and PR strategy;

    (iv)  sharing and establishing new links between the greater Road Safety movement;

    (v)  effecting a positive change in driver behaviour and making "speeding" as anti-social as "drinking and driving"; and

    (vi)  building on and devising public attitude surveys providing clear evidence of trends and changing behavioural patterns.

  5.5  So successful has the Northamptonshire experience been that the National Safety Camera Scheme now requires every participating area to employ a full-time publicity and marketing manager, and a national lead officer works to the Safety Camera Board as detailed in the next paragraph.

  5.6  ACPO is satisfied that there is overwhelming public support for the Safety Camera Scheme. We are confident that provided it continues to be properly managed then this level of public support will continue, despite the rather weird opposition of two high profile newspapers.

6.  Future Developments

  6.1  The Safety Camera Scheme is now being extended nationwide. We anticipate that all forces in the UK will have joined within the next two years.

  6.2  The concept of "netting off" has been a great success. ACPO is keen to extend it to other aspects of road policing using ANPR cameras. Project Laser is being developed for this purpose at present.

114   Hooke A, Knox J and Portas D (1996). Cost Benefit Analysis of Traffic Light and Speed Cameras. Police Research Series Paper 20, Police Research Group, Home Office, London. Back

115   Finch D J, Kompfner P, Lockwood C R and Maycock G (1994). Speed, Speed Limits and Accidents. Project Report 58, Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), Crowthorne. Back

116   Taylor MC, Lynam DA and Baruya A (2000). The effects of drivers' speed on the frequency of road accidents. Report 421, TRL, Crowthorne. Back

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