Speed Cameras

Police, Camera, No Action: Local people hit back after camera turn off

6 September 2010

Government road safety cuts which could result in the 'axing' of thousands of speed cameras have resulted in a public backlash rather than ending the 'war on the motorist', according to the AA.

The AA has raised concerns about this in a letter to the Transport Secretary and will raise the issue in a forthcoming meeting with transport ministers.

Many local residents in areas such as Oxfordshire have voiced their fears of the consequences of these moves.

government cuts could see thousands of cameras switched off This followed a decision by Oxfordshire County Council to reduce the funding provided to the safety camera partnership by 70% which has forced the partnership to announce that camera operations will cease.

The AA is concerned that the views of motorists are not being reflected accurately in this debate and that ultimately lives are at risk.

The AA believes that the Government and local authorities should think hard about the consequences of turning off cameras particularly as it is often local residents who are likely to be adversely affected and who in many cases have called for cameras in their towns and villages in the first place.

Residents' experience

The effects of the camera switch-off in Oxfordshire are already being experienced by residents.

On the A44 Woodstock Road which runs into Oxford centre, Carla Bramble, a 45-year-old housewife who has lived there all her life said: "Cars used to slow down when they saw the camera and, because there is another one along the road, they would maintain that speed. But now they belt along the road as fast as they like. People have read the papers and they know that all the cameras are off. They know they can go as fast as they want on this road now, and that is what they seem to be doing."*

Similar responses are being heard in other areas. Frances Alexander, a former mayor of High Wycombe who lives near a site where a camera is to be switched off, said: "How many children will suffer because of this? I feel for the ones that might get run over.

"With the camera out of action people will just ignore the speed limit. People were much more cautious in the way they drove since it was installed." **

AA survey results

AA/Populus polls consistently show that approximately 70% of AA members accept the use of cameras.

The most recent poll (November 2009) of almost 15,000 AA members showed that 69% accept the use of cameras.

The previous poll (November 2008) of 11,000 showed that 70% accept the use of cameras.


All the money raised from fines goes back to the Treasury and funding is allocated to individual partnerships based on a grant, irrespective of the number of fixed penalty tickets issued. Increasingly, partnerships are moving towards driver education as an alternative to prosecution because the objective is to reduce speed and save lives. This move to speed awareness courses is supported by 80% of AA members.


Marginal increases in speed can be the difference between life and death. A child involved in a collision with a vehicle travelling at 30mph has an 80% chance of survival – at 40mph there is an 80% chance that they will die.

Government policy

The Government has stated it will not fund any more new fixed site cameras. In most areas there have been no new fixed cameras for 6 years or so. The Government has also announced a 37% reduction in the road safety support grant which is the funding provided to local authorities for road safety purposes. It is the combination of those two announcements which has created the risk to the continued viability of the camera enforcement programme.


Commenting, Edmund King, AA president, said: "There is currently a road safety policy void which could lead to an increase in crashes. Locally, decisions are being made based on harsh financial reality, coupled with perceptions of what the Government's longer term intentions might be.

cameras in the right place, on the right roads with the right speed limit, can be effective "Local people are more concerned about the 'battle to save lives' on local roads that could become race tracks rather than any 'war on the motorist'.

"Cameras will never be loved but their use is accepted by the majority of motorists. If cameras are situated in the right place, on the right roads with the right speed limit, they can be effective and will be accepted by the public."


Over the last few years excessive speeding has reduced in urban areas and this is largely due to the camera deterrent effect and a more general awareness that speeding in urban areas is dangerous.

The percentage of vehicles exceeding the 30mph speed limit was lower in every vehicle category last year than ten years previously. Indeed the number of cars exceeding the 30mph limit has fallen 20% in the last decade. Road casualties also fell by 31% between 1994-98 average and 2009.

The economic argument for reducing spending on camera enforcement does not stack up. Camera enforcement is paid for by those people who break the law. If enforcement is reduced, then the funding returned to the Treasury also reduces.

In addition to the cost in human terms there is a huge financial cost associated with death and injury on the roads. It is estimated that each fatality costs society in the region of £1.7m. It would not take a significant increase in fatalities to quickly erode the £30m which has been cut from this year's budget.

Road deaths have been declining and dropped to 2,222 last year but this was only after concerted efforts of the police, cameras, awareness campaigns, speed awareness courses and some road engineering.

There are numerous references in the press of local people opposing the switching off of cameras.

* www.independent.co.uk

** www.bucksfreepress.co.uk, www.oxfordmail.co.uk, www.oxfordmail.co.uk

Oxford Mail 24 July 2010

Parents expressed their shock that the camera next to the park in Abingdon Road would be switched off.

Lynne Wade, 53, from Iffley takes her two grandchildren Thomas, three, and Amelia, two, to the park twice a week. She said: "It's shocking. I would feel less safe bringing my grand-children with the camera turned off."

Jenny Carter, 44, a mum-of-one from Howard Street, said: "It is a terrible idea. I saw a little girl run out of the park the other day and her mum just caught her before she hit the road. As a driver seeing a speed camera slows me down."

Tracy Floyd, 35, a mum-of-one from Abingdon, said: "It would make me think about not coming to this park."

Join the discussion in the AA zone


6 September 2010