Norfolk is the latest council to announce its intention to switch off its speed cameras to save money.
The Eastern Daily Press reports that county councillors voted yesterday to withdraw the entire budget for the Safety Camera Partnership (SCP), which operates cameras, runs speedwatch schemes and carries out community safety programmes.
The annual budget for the organisation is £1.6 million, which will offer savings of £1.1 million next year – taking into account a one-off £500,000 cost of closing it down.
As we’ve reported, a growing number of councils around the country are choosing to save money by switching off cameras. Other councils to have taken the step – or announced their intention to – include Swindon, Oxfordshire, Bracknell Forest, Gloucestershire and Kent. Devon, Hertfordshire and Plymouth have also said their programmes are likely to be affected.
The cuts in Norfolk mean that the county’s 23 fixed speed cameras will be removed or switched off. Mobile enforcement vans will also be taken out of service.
In a report to Norfolk councillors, director of environment, transport and development Mike Jackson admitted that traffic speeds would be likely to increase without speed cameras and that “more people may be killed or seriously injured in the county”.
James Joyce, Liberal Democrat spokesman for community services, said: “We've managed to drive down the accident rate for children killed or seriously injured to really great levels. It's been a success and the cameras are part of that success.
“We're talking about lives here. Lives are of vital importance. We have to find a way of funding it.”
The issue will now go before the cabinet for a final decision at its next meeting on 11 October.
Police inspector Ian Boggan, manager of the SCP, told the EDP, “My initial reaction is that we really need to pause and consider our position. I would add that it's a responsibility of the constabulary to enforce legislation and at the end of the day we'll do that to the best of our ability with the resources we have available.”
Last month it was announced that 15 SCP staff out of a total of 30 would be redeployed or made redundant.
The Association of Chief Police Officers' lead of roads policing, chief constable Mick Giannasi, warned that the “kneejerk” move to cut costs could have serious repercussions.
He said: “The police service believes that the use of safety cameras has been a cornerstone of the success in reducing death and injuries on our roads and many lives have been saved since the introduction of speed cameras.
“They are an effective way of making drivers reduce their speed and drive more safely while penalising those who don't.
“Keeping people safe on our roads requires a concerted campaign, based on a variety of tactics to prevent irresponsible people from causing death and injury. Safety cameras are a vital part of that campaign. We need to look at the evidence and ask if a kneejerk reaction here is genuinely going to save money or whether it is just going to cost lives.
“Potentially we are heading for a significant short term reduction in existing camera enforcement capability. It would be a step backwards if that was allowed to happen indiscriminately. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”