Missing speed camera performance report found

We reported on claims made in April that the North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) had claimed that University report had found that 8 accidents had been prevented as a result of the deployment of mobile speed camera vans in the county.

We did wonder at the time how they could possibly know?

Maybe accident reduction is about keeping drivers alert?

The police have previously admitted that they don’t record the trend in average/mean/top speeds recorded at the sites that they regularly monitor with cameras.

So there is currently no way of knowing whether vehicle speeds are reducing, or increasing, over a period of time.

Nor were the police able to provide accident data for monitored sites, although we still await a response from a fresh Freedom of Information request on this issue.

On 11th May, North Yorkshire Police emailed us to say that they “do not currently hold a copy of the study conducted by Newcastle University

On 5th June, following further pressure,  the PCCs office provided a link to what they claimed was the University study. As we recorded at the time, this study concerned only Northumberland and appeared to have little relevance to the situation in North Yorkshire.

On 30thJune a further message was received from the PCCs office. It appears that they had now found a report (reproduced below).  It transpires that the report was based on a desk top study that had been undertaken in 2015

Unfortunately, the report covered a period between 2011 and 2014 where there had been a general downturn in accident figures across the whole of North Yorkshire.

We conclude that the Police and PCC have been evasive when responding to requests that they justify their expenditure on deploying additional mobile camera vans (There are 12 in the county now).

Too often it seems that the cameras are located at sites where the principal objective is to maximise revenue (the income from “speed awareness” courses is used by the police to offset the costs of the vans).

Recent accidents on the A64 may raise further concerns about the effectiveness of the policy.

The original intention of the speed vans had been to locate them at and near, accident black spots.

They would also spend some of their time in the suburbs, and in villages, as a way of reassuring residents who were concerned about speeding issues.

When we have the final information that we requested on accident levels we will write to the PCC.

If necessary, this will be followed by a formal complaint.

Newcastle University report for North Yorkshire Police and PCC

So do speed cameras reduce accident levels?

In April the North Yorkshire Crime  and Policing Commisioner (PCC), Julia Mulligan, announced that 6 additional mobile speed camera vans were being deployed in the area. This brought the total n number of vans to 12.

In doing so, she cited a University of Newcastle report which she claimed demonstrated that the mobile speed camera vans had reduced the number of “killed or seriously injured” accidents in the county by 8. 

but had they?

On 13th April The Press reported the PCC as saying, “Over the past three years Newcastle University has conducted studies into North Yorkshire’s killed or seriously injured statistics across 22 local sites and evaluated the effect of the mobile speed camera vans on the level of road safety. The study found that due to the deployment of the vans to those sites there has been a reduction of eight casualties”.

The clear implication of the comment was that a study had been carried out in York and North Yorkshire.

Following a Freedom of Information request the North Yorkshire Police said they didn’t have a copy of any such report.

When pressed, the PCC’s office provided a link to a report on accidents in Northumberland  (click)

The Commissioners office has conceded that the study was in fact carried out in Northumberland. It is unclear how the figures have been extrapolated to support additional expense on deploying more cameras in our North Yorkshire.

What is clear is that the Northumberland report covers a reference period of 18 years during most of which time, in North Yorkshire, there had been a reduction in the number of recorded road accidents anyway.

Mobile speed cameras were first deployed in North Yorkshire  – on a very small scale – in 2010.

NY police continue to resist calls for information on how effective the cameras have been.

They say that – for regularly monitored sites – they do not hold records of the mean, 85% percentile and maximum speeds recorded at each camera visit. Therefore no trends have been identified. They say it would be too expensive to trawl their records to gather the information. Nor do they promise to report the information in future…. meaning that we may never know whether the cameras actually influence traffic speeds.

We also currently don’t know whether the vans are achieving their primary purpose of reducing accident levels. Again the police do  not routinely correlate accident levels on those roads which are subject to routine camera surveillance.

We do know that accident levels generally on our roads have shown a small increase over the last couple of years.

We can understand the eagerness of the PCC to provide high profile “reassurance checks” on speeds in sub-urban areas and villages where local residents raise concerns.

However the large scale deployment of vans at sites which either do not have a poor accident record, or where there is no public concern, will prompt criticism that they are just a self sustaining “cash cow”.

Income from” the speed awareness courses” offered to law breakers, is used to fund the running costs of the vans.

In 2015/16, £1.7 million was received by the police from this source

In our view, the both the Police and the PCC need to be more open about the effects that the millions of pounds invested in this project are actually having.

Hopefully their next annual report will be more transparent.




York police rolling out mini speed camera vans

The number of camera vans operating in North Yorkshire has doubled.  Six new, smaller sized, vehicles are expected to concentrate on villages and “more built-up areas”

They’ll be added to the six transit-sized vans already in the force’s mobile “speedcam” fleet. Chief Constable Dave Jones says the new vans mean drivers are likely to be caught on camera “in areas they didn’t previously expect”

The announcement will reawaken the controversy about how effective the police policy is on controlling vehicle speeds.

The force says, “Our mobile safety camera vehicles aim to reduce the number of collisions, deaths and serious injuries on our roads”.

FOI requests asking for trend data on average speeds – and accident rates – on roads subject to regular speed camera visits were ignored last year.

So all we know is that around £1 million a year is being taken in fines and “speed awareness course” income. This effectively pays for the camera vans and is a powerful incentive to use them where non compliance is at its most likely (essentially on trunk roads)

North Yorkshire speed stats

In effect the only success measure that is published is the number of vehicles found to be exceeding the speed limit on a day. This data can be viewed by clicking here

The Police site also lists the roads which are currently liable to be monitored

In York the list currently is:


  • Tadcaster Road Dringhouses York
  • Strensall Road Huntington York
  • Church Lane, Wheldrake
  • Millfield Lane Poppleton York
  • A64 Eastbound Heslington York
  • A64 Westbound Heslington York
  • A64 Westbound Murton
  • A64 Westbound a Fulford
  • A64 Claxton
  • A19 Skelton
  • A64 Jack Daw Crag Overbridge-Westbound
  • A64 Jack Daw Crag Overbridge-Ebound
  • B1222 Cawood Junct of Kelfield-
  • B1217 Saxton
  • A59 Poppleton Road (Holgate)
  • A59 Boroughbridge Road (opposite shops)
  • A1036 Huntington South Moor

More on speeding

Following our article last week, the City of York Council has updated the report form links on its speeding problems web page

The Council has also explained why it no longer lists the results of speed checks undertaken in the York area. Apparently residents must now look though the data for the whole of North Yorkshire to find the detail that they need. 

The spreadsheet can be downloaded by clicking here 

The York area roads, on which data has been collected over the last 2 years, include:

York Streets where vehicle speeds have been checked 2014 – 2017

York Council neglecting problems with speeding traffic?

Following the embarrassing failure of the 20 mph speed limit project (where on many roads average speeds were found to have risen following the installation of the new signs) it appears that the York Council is turning a blind eye to speeding problems.

Wetherby Road VAS

Wetherby Road VAS

Many residents had pointed out that risks were greatest at locations where motorists routinely exceeded 40 mph.

Despite this, the Councils web page, which is devoted to addressing speeding concerns, has not been kept up to date.

The page (click to access) claims to provide links to an “on line” Police form that can be completed by those wanting vehicle speeds checked. In fact the links are broken (although you can access the form direct by clicking here).

Nor is the Council reporting back on the results of speed checks that have been undertaken. The last list dates from November 2015 but does not include any speed data

There are several problem locations in west York.

These  include St Stephens Road while the frequent activation of the Vehicle Activated warning  Signs on Wetherby Road and Green Lane suggests that many drivers still do not stay within the 30 mph limit.

North Yorks speed camera vanThe Police have 3 safety camera vans. However they tend to visit the same locations in the York area on a regular basis. Clearly they can be assured of regular fine income from sites like those on the A64, but this is at the expense of high profile “reassurance checks” in residential areas.

Recent figures suggest that the vans now concentrate mainly on the A64 and A59 near York.

The Police have singularly failed to produce statistics which confirm whether deployment of the vans has reduced accident rates on particular stretches of road.

Nor do they report whether average speeds have been reduced at sites that they visit regularly.

So, all in all, we think that the speed awareness partnership needs to up its game in and around the City.


20 mph speed limits flop – road accidents increasing in west York

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the York Council has published updated figures indicating the effect that the revised 20 mph speed limits have had on average vehicle speeds and accident levels.

The figures reveal that the new limits have had little or no effect on average vehicle speeds while some accident levels have actually risen.

The data updates that published in March 2015 which showed similar results.

The data covers the 20 mph wide area limit in western York implemented in 2013/14. The project cost £600,000 to implement and was widely criticised for failing to recognise that such limits were unenforceable and, in any event, would have a negligible effect on accident levels.

Opponents wanted the money spent directly on safety improvements at accident black spots.

On some 20 mph roads such as Alness Drive the maximum speed recorded this year has been as much as 68mph – well above levels seen before the speed limit change

Overall there has been a reduction of only 1.3 mph in mean speeds.
Accident levels in the area have increased from 62 recorded in 2012 to 78 in 2015

On a related issue, North Yorkshire police are to be asked to justify their decision to increase the number of mobile speed enforcement cameras vans to six.

The Police responded to an FOI inquiry indicting that they only held information relating to the total number of offences which had been recorded when a van visited a particular location. This information had been published on their web site for couple of years now.

The police also publish how they they are dealing with specific speeding complaints raised by members of the public (although there is a backlog). click here

However, it doesn’t provide a measure of how effective the vans have been in controlling vehicle speeds or in reducing the number of accidents on the roads being monitored.

The number of drivers exceeding the prevailing speed limit is only a crude reflection of the “success” of the cameras.  Changes in offender numbers may simply reflected changes in traffic volumes.

Against a background of increasing numbers of road casualty’s, residents need to be convinced that roads are now safer as a result of police investment.

A further request for the information is now being drafted.

Comparative vehciels speeds in west York pre and post 20 mph limits

Comparative vehicle speeds in west York pre and post 20 mph limit change

Road accident trends in west York

Road accident trends in west York

Wetherby Road speed limits to change

The Council has today agreed to impose a 40 mph speed limit on Wetherby Road (and Bland Lane) between the A1237 and the built up area. Signage is also to be improved.

It is hoped that the buffer zone will encourage drivers to slow down before they reach the 30 mph limit. A similar buffer zone on Askham Lane has not proved to be very successful 

We have doubts about this plan which will do nothing to control the speed of vehicles leaving the City. An occasional visit by the speed camera van would be more effective as a deterrent.

However the re-election of the old crime commissioner recently means that speed enforcement will continue to be focused on villages and trunk roads. The later produce the bulk of the nearly £1 million income that the North Yorkshire police derive from the camera vans.

Wetherby Road speed limits

£1 million in Yorkshire speeding fines as spy vans set to multiply

North Yorkshire Police took £1,049,000 last year from 40,377 motorists caught exceeding the speed limit by their camera vans.
Speed van report - click

Speed van report – click

This paid for the £886,000 costs of running three vans and produced a surplus of £163,000 which the force claims is used for “road safety initiatives”.

The money came from charges for those opting to attend “speed awareness courses”.

5958 motorists were instead fined, with that income going to central government.

There are currently 6 speed vans operating in North Yorkshire and the crime commissioner now wants to increase this number to 12.

The announcement has been made only days before nominations close for the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections which are due on 5th May.

The report fails to include up to date figures for 2015/16.

The current PCC says she wants the additional vans to be used in “rural” areas – suggesting that her traditional Tory support is wavering.

She appears to be using her Commissioners office resources to promote a (belated) series of initiatives & meetings. Many may feel this is irregular given the proximity of the “purdah” period (during which election candidates are prevented from using taxpayer’s money to promote themselves).

Speeding clearly is a problem in some areas and the original intention of the vans – which North Yorkshire police dithered over introducing for over 2 years – was to focus on accident blackspots while making occasional visits to locations where residents were anxious about vehicle speeds.

This “reassurance” aspect doesn’t appear to be working very well. Despite requests from local Councillors, several roads in York (Wetherby Road, Green Lane) where vehicles regularly exceed the 30 mph limit never receive a deterrent visit from a camera van.

The new vans will include ANPR cameras which can be used to monitor the movements of vehicles.

NB. The number of people killed or seriously injured on North Yorkshires roads has been stable over recent years. Accidents involving motorcyclists have been high. One of the roads with the worst accident records is the A64.

Wetherby Road traffic speeds – residents act

Speed signs Wetherby Road 2

Speed signs Wetherby Road

As we have reported before, residents are becoming irritated by the large proportion of drivers who are activating the 30 mph warning signs.

There have been no police checks on speeds for several years with the road excluded from the list of mobile camera sites.

A few weeks ago the Police launched their self help speed monitor but it is a time consuming and often ineffective way of controlling speeds.

There is a particular problem on Wetherby Road as residents need to reverse into their driveways and visibility is limited.

The Council has made provision in its budget to refresh the flashing Vehicle Activated Signs but when this will happen remains to be seen.

Meanwhile more basic signs have appeared on the road.

Wetherby Road VAS

Wetherby Road VAS


Disappointment as Police fail to deal with speeding problems in Acomb and Westfield areas

Community Speed Watch

The Acomb and Westfield wards in York appear to have been snubbed as the police today launched a “community speed watch” project.

The Community Speed Watch pilot programme will run at up to 50 sites across York, Harrogate, Selby and Harrogate “where local people have already registered a concern about speeding vehicles”. 

The Police say that the sites are “mainly” residential areas with 30 and 40 mph speed limits.

In York the chosen sites are in Holgate, Strensall, Clifton Moor, Dringhouses and Rawcliffe

However the concerns of residents living on Green Lane and Wetherby Road in the Westfield ward and Beckfield Lane in the Acomb Ward appear to have been overlooked.

A recent survey on Wetherby Road showed nearly 40% of vehicles triggering the 30 mph VAS warning sign.

No consultation with local Councillors appears to have taken place.

In a media release the Police say, “Over the next six months, police volunteers, together with members of the community, will visit the sites with a hand-held radar gun and/or an LED speed sign.  They will record vehicle speeds and anyone caught speeding will receive a letter from North Yorkshire Police informing them of their offence and the need to address driving behaviour.

The main purpose of Community Speed Watch is to draw drivers’ attention to speed limits in areas where communities say it is affecting their quality of life, and to educate them about the effects that anti-social road use can have on local people.  However, North Yorkshire Police will also be keeping a close watch on the recorded data, and may take enforcement measures if a persistent or extreme offender is identified”.

Details of the community speed watch leaflet can be found by clicking here

Our view

We think that using PCSOs and Specials to test speed limit compliance may be a good way to use some of their time.

We don’t see the involvement of local residents in enforcement activity of this sort as being appropriate.

It is potentially confrontational and part of the drift away from sustaining professional public service standards.