Daily Mail: How speed cameras rake in £1,000 an hour from drivers

Tuesday, 5 May, 2009

LABOUR was last night accused of 'milking the motorist' after it emerged speed cameras are netting £10,000 for the Treasury every hour.

Home Office figures show the number of fixed penalty notices handed out for speeding has increased by 100 per cent in ten years.

The vast majority were given to drivers caught by speed cameras, of which there are now around 6,000.

The total cash raised by fining 1,462,235 speeding motorists was almost £88million in 2007 - compared to only £28.5million from 713,000 in 1997.

As well as presiding over a huge increase in the number of tickets, the current Government has also raised fines from £40 to £60. The total amount raised under Labour is a staggering £840million.

Tory police spokesman David Ruffley , who compiled the figures, said: 'Labour are milking the motorist, who have been treated as a cash cow for the last ten years.

'Motorists have been milked by a Labour government desperate to fund a decade of spend, spend, spend.

'No wonder cameras on our roads are so unpopular with the British motorist.'

Around 1.2million of the 1.462million tickets issued in 2007 went to drivers caught by speed cameras. The number of cameras has increased from 1,935 as recently as 2000, to around 6,000.

Until April 1 2007, camera partnerships operated by police and local authorities were allowed to keep a proportion of fines to pay for more cameras. Since then, they have received a fixed amount for all aspects of road safety.

All the money raised by the fines is taken by the Treasury, which enjoyed proceeds of £10,000 a day in 2007.

Matthew Elliott, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: 'The fact that more speeding fines are handed out every year suggests that speed cameras are more about raising revenue than reducing speeds on the roads.

'If any other policy had so clearly failed in its objective it would be scrapped but it seems that the authorities are too keen on the money speeding fines screw out of motorists.

'This is not just hugely expensive, it is dragging the reputation of the law through the dirt. Fining anyone should be about justice, not fund-raising.' Over the past decade the number of speeding fines has risen in 38 out of the 43 police forces in England and Wales.

In Nottinghamshire, there has been a sixfold increase from 4,625 in 1997 to 34,750. In Warwickshire the figures went up thirteen-fold from 1,857 to 27,468. Northamptonshire has also seen a thirteen-fold increase, from 3,722 to 48,833. In Surrey the increase is five-fold, from 5,340 to 28,941. And in the West Midlands there has been a four-fold increase from 9,378 to 45,357.

The Government insists the purpose of the cameras is to save lives, not raise money. Officials point to statistics showing road deaths fell in 2007 to 2,943, the lowest since records began in 1926.

However, road safety campaigners have warned of an increased risk to cyclists after the number who were seriously injured rose by 6 per cent to 2,428.

Experts welcomed the fall in deaths but said more cyclists on the roads could lead to more accidents.

Road safety groups have attributed the decline in deaths to improvements in car safety and increased penalties for offences such as using mobile phones while driving.