Police force scraps all 304 speed cameras

  • Officers can’t afford the £580,000 cost of upgrading them to digital film

  • Now using mobile cameras at speeding hotspots

Speed cameras have been switched off in part of the UK because they are too costly to run.

The last of the West Midlands’ 304 fixed cameras ceased operating today following a decision by West Midlands Police last year.

The decision has the backing of the region’s councils which make up the West Midlands Road Safety Partnership Board, with the police now using mobile speed cameras instead.

In 2009 Swindon became the first town in the UK to scrap speed cameras after it was decided they were a ‘blatant tax on the motorist’ which did nothing to improve safety.

Figures revealed there was no increase in road accidents following the decision and no fatalities in the six months after the cameras were switched off.

Budget cuts are at the heart of decision says West Midlands Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Garry Forsyth.

It has been the force’s job to manage and pay to run the sites, including traffic light cameras, with councils paying for maintenance.

However, the cash-strapped local authorities balked at the estimated £580,000 cost of upgrading the cameras to digital film, and do not have the money to continue running them.

Removing the cameras would cost £600,000.

The police are now using mobile cameras at speeding hotspots across Birmingham, Coventry, and the Black Country.

Speed cameras

Still cracking down: Police are now using mobile cameras at speeding hotspots across Birmingham, Coventry, and the Black Country. Removing the existing speed cameras will cost £600,000

Mr Forsyth said: ‘The cameras currently in use require a major upgrade in order to remain effective and this would cost both police and local authorities a considerable amount of money at a time of a reduction across public sector budgets.

‘However, we are committed to road safety and this is why we are due to increase the number of mobile speed cameras from April.’

A review of the fixed cameras’ long-term future will be discussed in May.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), said: ‘Speed cameras are a very effective way of saving lives and reducing injuries on the road, they help save an estimated 100 lives a year in the UK.

‘They should continue to be used where casualty statistics show they are needed.’

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the transport policy and research organisation the RAC Foundation, said: ‘We support the use of speed cameras as do the majority of the public but this financial squeeze will at least allow the authorities to reassess whether replacement cameras in the future are put in the right place to solve a real problem.

‘We are encouraged that the police will deploy more mobile devices which give a flexibility the fixed boxes never could.’

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