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 North East & Cumbria: Monday September 20, 2004


Speed camera
A new crime thwarts speed ban measures

Speed cameras are here to stay - at least in most places. And with the ever growing number of cameras, comes the cunning speedster - Inside Out zooms in on the growing crime of 'selling on' points.

There are two very well entrenched camps with the speed camera debate.

There are those for them, and those against them.

But is the prolific use of cameras the right way of reducing the alarming statistics of death and injury on Britain's roads?

Eric Harrison
Eric Harrison believes firmly that his job is vital

Eric Harrison of the Northumbria Speed Cam Partnership, is on the verge-side every day with his eye down the lens, he thinks it is right.

"Altering drivers' speed is the main criteria for reducing accidents, especially on this road," he insists.

But Eric, and the others in their highly visible speed trap vans, receive dog's abuse for his public service. It seems that the public are not exactly sympathetic to the cause.

"We sometimes get vans going past with the statutory "V" sign and various gestures out of their windows and shouting," he says, "but after five years, I think I've heard them all now."

Black market

If you get caught, you normally get 3 points on your licence. Twelve points in 3 years and you could get a ban.

The camera never lies, they say, but a speed camera doesn't always know who is driving.

This is something that is being exploited by otherwise law abiding individuals.

Speed camera van
The camera vans aren't exactly camouflaged

Inside Out reveals that, with this inability to identify the person actually driving, a black market in "selling on points" is now flourishing.

Inside Out's Chris Jackson logs on to the internet looking for drivers facing a driving ban.

He types in, "do you need to offload penalty points to save your licence"?

In less time than it takes to peel off a parking ticket, an answer comes in.

It stated "My mate is looking for someone who wants someone to take his points, he's offering to give you £150 for doing it; money for the fine and in return you get the 3 points for speeding".

So, is that a fair deal or a crime?

It's a crime

While Chris doesn't take up the offer, he does have a meeting set up to find out more.

The meeting was with an unidentified driving instructor who had taken advantage of the camera's "blind eye".

"They haven't got your face on camera, they can't prove it was you - you've got to declare who was driving the car," he says, "how are they going to know any different?"

He insists that he doesn't condone speeding, but he fails to see that there is anything wrong in taking the action he does.

Technology fights back

Camera tracking device
The days of these crafty trackers may be numbered

With the ever growing number of cameras, convictions, points and fines being meted out, the stakes are getting higher.

So in some quarters, the use of technology is coming to the rescue.

Camera tracking devices, which alert the driver as they approach a speed camera, are becoming popular.

Colin Urie, from Networx Group, says, "The sale of gadgets like this are booming, thanks to the rise in speed cameras."

Although they are not, at present, illegal, the government is considering a ban on such devices.

The government has also set a target to reduce death and injury on the road by nearly half by 2010 - they see cameras as being strong weapons in the police arsenal.

Not all agree

Chief Constable, Paul Garvin of Durham Constabulary
Chief Constable Garvin is not convinced of the camera's use

Chief Constable, Paul Garvin of the Durham Constabulary, points out that the "selling on" of points is a serious offence.

But he expresses a certain sympathy for those who have "sold on" their speeding points.

He says, "I can understand people who are extremely concerned, they may be totting up to 12 points, likely to lose their ability to get to work or indeed if their job relies on it, lose the job itself.

"That has major consequences for families rather than just for the drivers themselves."

Despite the government's ambitious target, Chief Constable Garvin does not consider that fixed cameras will help the quest to lower the figures.

"Speed cameras," he says, "cannot tackle the problem driver who often doesn't work, doesn't insure the vehicle, drives whilst disqualified, doesn't bother registering the vehicle at all and just seems to drive around the roads with complete impunity."

Meanwhile, as the camera debate rages on, more cameras are being erected, and more drivers are being convicted.

What will slow down first - the drivers' convictions or the cameras' installation?

Separate speeding fact from fiction by clicking here

See also ...

20mph Zones

On the rest of the web
Safe Speed For Life
Institute of Road Safety Officers (IRSO)
Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
Department for Transport - Think! campaign

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