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

Annex B

DTLR Transport Local Government Regions

Cost Recovery System for Traffic Safety Cameras First Year Report Executive Summary


  Enforcement cameras were first introduced into the UK in 1991. A number of research studies have proved that they are an extremely effective mechanism for reducing road casualties. A cost-benefit analysis in 1996[111] showed that cameras paid for themselves five times in the first year of operation alone, once the full benefits to society are considered—including to the Health Service.

  There is an established relationship between reducing speed collisions: research by TRL[112] in 1993 showed that just a one mph 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.[113]

  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 in this summary.

  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.

  In 1999, 13 areas submitted bids to pilot the scheme and eight were selected reflecting 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 and the pilots have been monitored against a number of criteria. The main criteria are:

    —  Speed and casualty—can the partnerships demonstrate an effect on speed and casualties in camera locations?

    —  Public acceptance—does the public acknowledge that the primary reason for speed and red-light cameras is road safety?

    —  Financial aspects—have the financial arrangements worked without distorting operational priorities?

  This document is an executive summary of the full report from the first year of operation. The full report will be published in October 2001, once all of the casualty figures have been validated against Road Accidents Great Britain (RAGB) 2000 statistics.


  As mentioned earlier, a one mph reduction in speed equates to around a 5 per cent reduction in collisions. This section reviews the success of the pilot in reducing speed at camera enforcement sites.

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

  These demonstrate that cameras do reduce speed and a consequential reduction in casualties should be expected.

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

    —  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.

    —  The increase in enforcement is reducing the average speed at these sites. Average speed at the camera sites has reduced on average by 5.6mph. we would, therefore, expect to see a reduction in collisions in these high-risk sites of around 30 per cent (based on one mph reduction in speed equals 5 per cent reduction in collisions).


  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.

  The principle measure of the success of the pilots is whether or not there is evidence that casualties have fallen in the camera sites. The camera sites were selected on the basis of their speed related casualty history. All areas collected three years worth of data on the number of personal injury collisions (PIC) and the number of people killed and seriously injured (KSI) in the three years prior to the start of the pilot and subsequently—see Appendix A for definitions. This has been used to compare the number of actual collisions and casualties experienced once the cameras were introduced with those expected (based on an average for three previous years). Results are summarised below.

3.1  Effect on casualties in the immediate vicinity of the cameras

  All areas were required to identify the total number of KSI's and PIC's in the three year period in the immediate vicinity of the cameras. The number of casualties and collisions has been monitored over the first full year of the pilot. Before and after casualty data has been analysed for over 250 sites.

  Results for the camera sites have been very positive.

    —  On average there were 35 per cent fewer collisions at camera sites (compared to 28 per cent in 1996 report). This means there were 379 fewer collisions at the selected sites as a result of increased enforcement. This represents a reduction in the number of collisions of 1.5 collisions per site.

    —  On average 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.

    —  Using DTLR figures it is possible to estimate that £27 million has been saved by the reduction of casualties and collisions at safety camera sites.

  On the evidence collected to date, the cameras are having a substantial impact—particularly in those areas that have a particular speed and casualty problem. This strengthens the accepted wisdom that cameras should be located in high-speed, high-risk sites and the importance of getting the enforcement strategy right at the start.

3.2  Effect on casualties in the wider partnership area

  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 demonstrate 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.

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

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

    —  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.

  There is some evidence that the cameras are having a positive effect beyond the immediate areas where the cameras are operating, although this should not be overstated. However, it is certainly clear that camera enforcement is having a substantial positive impact on the collision black spots targeted.


  In 1999 a DETR research paper was published that measured public perception to speed cameras (Road Safety Research Report No 11: The effects of speed cameras: how drivers respond). This included a self-completion questionnaire that asked a number of questions regarding drivers perception of speed cameras. They were asked whether or not they agreed with a number of statements.

  By and large, results then indicated that the public was generally supportive. One of the risks of the increase in enforcement was that public reaction could change and some pilot areas carried out public surveys to monitor whether or not this was the case. To make comparisons between the pilots and the original research, partnerships included a series of standard questions.

QuestionPrevious survey
Thames Valley
Average or new surveys
"Fewer accidents are likely to happen on roads where cameras are installed" (% agree) 66.6%
"Cameras mean that dangerous drivers are now more likely to get caught" (% agree) 77.9%
"Cameras are an easy way of making money out of motorists"   
(% agree)45.0%
"Cameras are meant to encourage drivers to keep to the lmits, not punish them" (% agree) 83.1%

    —  In summary, there has been little adverse reaction locally to the fact that the partnerships were retaining the fines from cameras to reinvest in their operation. In fact, most people presumed this was the case already.

    —  The number of requests received from the public for cameras to be introduced in their area has substantially exceeded the number of complaints about their operation.

    —  Local press coverage has been monitored in terms of the number of inches of positive, negative and neutral coverage. Partnerships have been proactive in informing the public about the camera locations and as a result around 90 per cent of press coverage has been positive (4 per cent negative and 6 per cent neutral).

  On balance the majority of the public in local partnership areas appears to be supportive of cameras, especially if the reasons for their use are well communicated and they are highly visible.


  It was important when setting up the systems for "netting off" that arrangements were put in place to prevent potential abuse. Detailed rules about participating in the scheme were developed and these have been adhered to throughout.

  In summary, the rules for the pilot were as follows:

    —  Pilots should be made up of the local highway authorities, the courts and the police.

    —  Only the cost of enforcing speed and red-light cameras was considered to be an allowable expenditure at this stage—the rules were set out in a handbook which detailed what was considered to be allowable expenditure.

    —  No organisation is allowed to make a "profit" out of the scheme. Any surplus of fine income over costs incurred has to be returned to the Treasury.

    —  All cameras should be located in casualty black spots with a history of speed-related collisions.

    —  Speed surveys should be conducted prior to camera operation to prove that speeding is a problem at each site.

    —  At the end of the year partnerships are subject to a full audit by the district auditor. This will examine how the money has been spent. Failure to receive a clean audit certificate could result in removal of the privilege to retain the funds.

    —  Three trial audits have been conducted to ensure that the rules are being adhered to. District auditors are currently reviewing the end of year accounts for the eight areas. Any lessons learned from this exercise will be used to inform any further partnerships joining the scheme.

  There is no evidence to suggest that operational priorities have been distorted in any way (eg that the scheme has been used to "make money" from the motorist). Mechanisms are in place to identify any abuse and the lessons learned from the pilot areas will be used to inform any subsequent rollout of the scheme. As a result of experiences in the pilot areas, the rules for national rollout have been refined and it is expected that this will help build on the successes achieved to date.

111   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

112   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

113   Taylor M C, Lynam D A and Baruya A (2000). The effects of drivers' speed on the frequency of road accidents. Report 421, TRL, Crowthorne. Back

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