AMPOW - SPEED AWARENESS CAMPAIGN
Against the Misuse of Police Waivers
The evidence we have so far obtained on the current practice of funding of police activities linked to speed camera operations is as follows:
a- The House of Commons Transport Committee published a report entitled "Road Traffic Law Enforcement - Second Report of Session 2015-16" in March 2016 which contains a section on "How Offences Are Dealt With" contains some useful information although the committee seems to have been misinformed to some extent in that they suggest some of the fees paid are "held by the police to cover the cost of referring the offender to the course". This is inaccurate as we have made clear elsewhere and the evidence is below.
b - In a note published by Norfolk County Council (Agenda for the Road Casualty Reduction Partnership Board dated 11th November 2014), it is stated that "The income received from NDORS/NCC pays for the SafeCam operation and any surplus is identified and held in reserves to be reinvested in road safety". It later says "...the Board also consider reinvesting further in the infrastructure of SafeCam to ensure that it remains operationally effective in promoting road safety". In a letter to Mr Reg Oliver dated 1st February 2016, Norfolk Constabulary also stated that: "All income received from NDORS pays the running costs of the Safety Camera Team and associated costs, for example vehicles/equipment, etc." . These statements make it clear that the monies received from SACs are used to finance all the operations of the Safety Camera Partnership including detection, i.e. not just administration, and are in addition used to fund more equipment such as additional cameras and camera vans.
c - North Yorkshire Police published a notice entitled "10/2016: Expansion of Safety Camera Vehicles to improve road safety and keep rural communities safer". This is a proposal to add 6 new camera vehicles (making 12 in total).
These vehicles and their equipment will be financed out of the surpluses from camera operations. In addition the equipment will include "automatic number plate recognition technology, so they can be used to tackle wider issues of anti-social road use, and cross-border criminality...". This makes it clear that the police are funding more than just road safety related activities from the SAC surpluses but their wider policing activities.
d - In the West Midlands an average speed camera project is to be launched in summer 2016, on roads in Birmingham and Solihull. Ashley Prior, Solihull's Head of Highway Services was quoted in Local Transport Today (LTT) on the 15th April 2016 as saying "It is anticipated that any future expansion of the scheme could be met from any favourable variance in the original budget together with the council's proportion of income generated from the speed awareness course fees". In other words the fees paid to the police not only generate a surplus but are being used directly to finance more cameras.
e - In 2013 Essex County Council responded to a Freedom of Information Act request on the revenue generated from the provision of speed awareness courses. It stated that "During 2012/13, the ECRB allocated two sums of money from the financial surplus that remained at the end of 2011/12. Both sums were awarded to Essex Police; one for approximately £20,000 for the purchase of two hand-held speed detection devices and the other for approximately £70,000 for the purchase of two motorcycles." In addition, it says "Essex Police are able to recover their costs for the detection and processing of offences captured which includes the highway authorities recovering the majority of the costs incurred maintaining the permanent safety camera installations within their area". So again this directly contradicts what NDORS and the Government have been saying.
f - Thames Valley Police have confirmed in a letter dated 4th January 2016 in response to an FOI Act request by solicitors acting for the ABD that “The income received by the Force in relation to AA Drivetech courses (speed awareness, rider improvement, etc) is 'ring fenced' for road safety initiatives and is spent on the following:- Administration of speeding/motor offences (fixed penalty support unit) Including staff costs and premises; Mobile camera vans (safety camera unit) including staff cost and vehicle/equipment purchase/maintenance; Road safety initiatives (staff going to schools, safe drive stay alive etc.)”. That certainly makes it clear that they are using income from speed awareness courses not just for administration of those courses, but to finance speed cameras and their operation.
g - Nottinghamshire Police received £1.3 million in 2015 based on the £35 referral fees via NDORS from the fees paid by course attendees. They issued 83,853 NIPs in that year with 39,610 courses attended. They declined to provide information on where that money is spent.
h - South Yorkshire Safety Camera Partnership had an overall income budget of £1,460,266 in 2013/2014 of which £830,788 came from the "Driver Diversion Course Fees" (Source; South Yorkshire Safety Cameras Operational Plan 2013/14 to 2014/15). The rest came from Local Authorities. The budgets are similar for 2014/2015 although the Local Authority contribution was forecast to fall. When looking at the Expenditure in 2013/2014, which matched the expected income, there is £855,646 on staff costs and £353,000 on Equipment Maintenance Costs.
But when you look at page 36 of that document which gives a detailed organisation structure diagram it is clear that there are 10 staff directly involved in "Enforcement" including Camera Technicians. In other words, a very large proportion of the costs are involved in operating and maintaining speed cameras so it is very clear that the claim that the revenue from speed awareness courses is solely used on administration is nonsense.
In addition South Yorkshire do not appear to even split out administration of speed awareness course invites from other activities, but as they have more staff on "enforcement" than on "administration", and the latter includes other work than administration of speed awareness course invites, plus the "equipment maintenance costs" are clearly not administration costs, it is very obvious that speed awareness course kickbacks via NDORS are funding the installation, maintenance and operation of speed cameras.
i - This was provided in a response to an FOI Act request to Cleveland Police:
“The income from the course fee is split in several ways, including payment to the course provider- £45, payment for administration of the National Driver Offender Re-training (NDORs) scheme nationally - £5 and payment to the PCC of the Force area - £35. The £35 received by the PCC is used to fund the costs to the Force in delivery of this area of work i.e. the team who work in the Camera Enforcement Unit, the team that deal with the tickets in the Central Ticket Office and all of the administration and postage involved in administering the scheme. The £45 course fee is paid over to Hartlepool Council who run and manage the training courses on our behalf. The council use this fee to cover the costs of the training and then return £19 of this £45 to the PCC to invest in Road Safety Initiatives and Schemes.
In addition, a number of initiatives have been funded or currently progressed by this income as follows:- New Camera Equipment - £37,810; Scanner - £72,931; Replacement of camera enforcement vehicles - £59,000 ……”.
So it is clear that not only do the fees received finance enforcement activities, but they also fund camera equipment and associated vehicles. Again this destroys the claim that only administration costs are recovered from speed awareness course fees.
j - The former Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins (he failed to get re-elected in 2016) was reported in the Daily Telegraph on the 4th November 2015 as planning to switch on speed cameras permanently on the M1 and set them at 70 mph under a "zero tolerance" approach. This was expected to generate "up to a million pounds for his cash strapped force". Mr Martins also spoke to the Commons Home Affairs Committee on "Reform of Police Funding" on the 3rd November 2015 where he said, after complaining about shortages in Police funding, that "I am now looking at things like turning on the HADECS cameras on the M1 and driving revenue from that, looking at sponsorship opportunities: does someone want to sponsor panda cars, our police officers' uniforms, so any...." at which point he was interrupted. But it is clear that he thought financing the police in general from SAC fees was acceptable.
k - As regards the additional "levy" being obtained by some police forces in addition to the £35 fixed fee, the following is a quotation from a document entitled "Decision Notice Number/Date (008/2014)" published by the Office of Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire:
"From the costs of the course a £35 central levy is recovered to cover all enforcement costs for the referring force, there is now an opportunity for NYP to consider introducing a 'local levy' to the cost of the course, something other forces have done for many years."
The above is just a sample of the evidence obtained by the ABD and by others. But the police have consistently evaded responding adequately and promptly to FOI Act requests or to complaints to them or to the IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) about police activities in this area.
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