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.