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PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2007 01:36 

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Transcript of; The Investigation, Speed Cameras, Radio 4 FM, Thursday 19 April 2007 20:00-20:30 ... sc&start=0 ... c&start=20

Simon Cox investigates the truth about speed cameras and transport policy. Before speed cameras were introduced the number of road deaths was falling dramatically, but this is no longer the case.

Why has this big downward trend stopped? In 2005 there were over 2 million successful speeding prosecutions. Is punishing so many drivers really making our roads safer or are speed cameras causing as many problems as they solve?

SC: Simon Cox; PS: Paul Smith; MH: Meredydd Hughes; KD: Kevin Delaney; CG: Captain Gatso;
LM: Dr Linda Mountain; MG: Michael Goldacre; CF: Christian Fitzgerald; JB: Jeremy Broughton;

Announcer: Simon Cox presents a new series of “The Investigation”.

SC: The Government believe speed cameras save lives, that’s why there are now over 5000 of them, on what seems like every major road in the UK, they certainly catch a lot of drivers, over 5 million now have penalty points, but are cameras making our roads safer.

In this investigation we’ll be revealing disturbing evidence to suggest that speed cameras could be doing more harm than good.

Kevin Delany (KD): Speed cameras rely on a data base being accurate, but if you don’t register vehicles in your own name, then of course any form of remote enforcement immediately falls flat.

SC: Aren’t you scared of getting caught. - Captain Gatso (CG): You are talking to a man who has never been successfully prosecuted by any speed entrapment device.

SC: If you want to analyse speed cameras, you have to start in London, the speed camera capital of Britain. There are many hundreds of cameras here and the potential to put in a thousand more. It was here on Twickenham bridge in South-West London that the first camera went in, in 1993. The man who made that decision was Kevin Delany, the then head of the Mets traffic police division.

So we are coming up to what’s is quite an important site, isn’t it.

KD: Yes it is, I mean we’re approaching what is the site of the first speed camera and if you look at the road you can already begin to see the problem. And the problem was always with traffic going out of London. And I mean here we are on the A316, here is a road that will accommodate four lines of moving traffic, easily, it has a 40mph speed limit and if you look at this road, everything about it says to you, fast road. The difficulty and the problem will become apparent as we get to the brow of the bridge. The road bears right, it’s a 90 degree right bend, and the road narrows. What used to happen was that in the middle of that bend, either drivers would leave the road and hit the wall, or they would meet each other head on, and both of those I’m afraid are a recipe for a motoring disaster.

Prior to 1993, traffic cops used to sit at that bridge, somewhat gloomily on their motorcycles, watching vehicles go by, and occasionally chasing the ones that were going fastest, and the whole episode probably took about half an hour of the traffic cops time and by the time he or she had got back to the point where they were supposed to be, there was probably a crash. It was an obvious choice and it stood out head and shoulders above the rest.

SC: This camera did the job of a traffic officer for 24hours a day, 365 days a year. It worked, placing a camera at such a notorious spot has undoubtedly saved lives.

So we’ve now turned round. We've gone round the roundabout and we’re coming back across this bridge, so here we’re coming to this bend, now I’ve noticed there’s obviously the original camera, that you pointed out, but as we go back over, there’s another one on the other side, for traffic coming into London.

KD: Yep, that’s a much more difficult one to justify. Now back in 1992, when the decisions were made about where to put the cameras, this one wasn’t even considered, because there weren’t any crashes on here.

SC: Its sites like these that fuel the suspicion among some drivers that speed cameras are there to generate money, rather than make roads safer, so now the people who run cameras are fighting back.

Adult voice: “After 3, I want you to go 1000, 500, in the loudest voices that you’ve got”. “Can you do that”.

Children, very loudly: Yes.

Adult voice: “I’m sure you can”

SC: These children in West London are taking part in a publicity stunt to celebrate the success of speed cameras.

Children, in loud voices: “1000, 500”

SC: The London Safety Camera Partnership are getting every primary school in the capital to plant sun flowers seeds, to mark the fact that cameras have, supposedly, saved 1500 people, from death and serious injury, since 2002.

Christian Fitzgerald is the communications manager for the London Partnership.

So why are we here this morning, why are you making us cold in this playground.

CF: Yes it is pretty chilly, however, we’re here fer a great celebration for the number of lives thats bin saved on London’s roads since the introduction of the Partnership and speed-cameras.

SC: That’s people, that not just lives saved, is it, that people who’ve saved and injured. Cos that suggest that 1500 people have been saved.

CF: Yes, killed or have not suffered life changing injuries, over the period of when the partnership’s been introduced.

SC: and that’s because you believe definitely, cameras save lives.

CF: definitely, absolutely, if you look at our datr, prior to cameras goin in, to present, there’s average 50% reduction overall in London, so they do save lives, and although people very much see em as a money making object, when you see a camera, just think that somebody has either died there, or suffered life changing injuries.

SC: So what exactly is a life changing injury. You make think someone who’s paralysed, but in London they use this term for anyone who has a serious injury. That could be someone who has concussion, or a broken bone. Serious possibly, but is it really life changing. This semantic slight-of-hand infuriates the small band of speed camera opponents. People like Paul Smith, and his group Safe-Speed, which does all it can to discredit cameras.

PS: The figure of 1500 is no more and no less than a fraud, it’s a fraudulent claim. This is not, by any measure or means, the beneficial effect of the speed cameras at those sites. The vast majority of the claim is due to random variation in the location of accidents. Some have said it is like swatting the place on the wall where you last saw the fly. They will come along and place the camera at the site of a random grouping of accidents, and when the random grouping of accidents doesn’t recur, they say accidents have gone down, but of course they would have gone down whether you put the camera there, or not.

SC: So how do cameras get there in the first place. Well contrary to popular belief, there is a standard procedure for installing one. There has to have been at least four serious injuries at a site over a three year period. This seems pretty fool proof , but on closer examination it can have major flaws. Kevin Delany, the former head of the Met polices traffic division gave us an example of a tragic incident in East London, that lead to the setting up of a camera.

KD: One evening a group of young people were driving back into London in a car which was not particularly roadworthy. The least roadworthy part of the car was the fact that it was running on a space-saver tyre. The space-saver tyre, amongst other things, failed. The car was totally devastated, young people died and were injured. In fact you had all the casualties in that one incident that you needed to install a camera. And so a camera was installed, and low and behold there weren’t any more crashes, but the question is would those results have been delivered anyway.

SC: On paper this camera would appear to have dramatically cut deaths, but the figures would have gone down anyway, with or without a camera, as it was such a dramatic one off incident. We asked the London Safety Camera Partnership whether they took account of this effect, known as Regression to Mean. They gave us this statement; “Regression to Mean makes the assumption that if nothing was done at a collision hotspot to reduce injuries, then collisions would fall by themselves. We do not subscribe to the view that saving lives should be left to chance.”

Try to quantify this effect is extremely difficult, but Dr Linda Mountin (LM), one of the Department for Transports advisors, spent three years trying to do just that. Her findings make a huge dent in the official claims about speed cameras. The last major evaluation in 2005 estimated there were 40% fewer people killed or seriously injured at camera sites. When Dr Mountin analysed the effectiveness of speed cameras, she included the regression to mean phenomenon. She came up with significantly different figures to the Government’s.

LM: We had a sample of 216 cameras and we found that the impact of the cameras, separate from any other effect, was a reduction of about 20% in both total collisions and fatal and serious collisions. If we’d ignored regression to mean effects, with the same cameras, we would have actually estimated a 50% fall in fatal and serious collisions, and 25% for the overall collision rates, so you can see it makes quite a big difference, particularly for the fatal and serious collisions.

SC: So they’re working, but nowhere near as well as official figures claim. Not surprisingly, Dr Mountin’s findings were tucked away in an appendix in the 140 page report. But even a 20% reduction in accidents and serious injuries is surely worth the pain of fines and penalty points. Paul Smith from Safe-Speed believes this is missing the point. We have to look at road safety as a whole, not just at cameras, even ones that work, like the one that we saw at Twickenham bridge.

PS: There’s no benefit in reducing the number of accidents at one spot if the total number of accidents elsewhere goes up as a consequence. We’re saying the side-effects of speed cameras on the entire road safety system outweigh any possible benefit that may arise at speed camera sites. What the authorities are neglecting to do is to look at road safety as an overall system. What we want to see is the number of people dying and the number of people being hospitalised reducing regularly, reliably, year on year. We’re entitled to see that, we’re entitled to see it because we know were putting safer cars on the road every year. We know we’re getting better at post crash medical treatment and rescue. These factors in the past have lead to regular and reliable reductions in road deaths and hospitalisations, and presently we are not getting that benefit.

SC: The last official figures showed big reductions in road deaths and serious injuries, but when you look under the bonnet at these statistics, it’s a different picture, particularly with road deaths. In the decade before speed cameras were introduced, deaths fell by over a quarter, but in the ten years after cameras came in, deaths went down by only eight percent. So the big reduction are due to fall in the number of serious injuries reported by the police, but now even these figures are being questioned by academics. Michael Goldacre, a professor of public health at Oxford university, suspected the police figures weren’t reflecting what was happening on Britain’s roads, so he and a team of academics conducted research using hospital figures for road injuries.

MG: We thought there were some anomalies in the police statistics and what we did was we analysed English national hospital admissions rates. What we found was essentially no substantial decline at all, so there was a quite big difference between the downward trend told in the police statistics and the almost complete lack of downward trend told in hospital admission rates.

SC: He believes there is a simple answer, that the police are underreporting road injuries. Indeed the department for transport is currently conducting research into the difference between hospital and police figures. There's no doubt that there have been some areas where there is agreement on major improvements, for instants in injuries to children and cyclists, but for driver and motorcyclists the figures for death are disappointing. Jeremy Broughton from the transport research laboratory has written a report for the government trying to find out what was happening with these figures.

The road deaths, we used to be the best in Europe, where as coming down a lot, why is it plateauing now then.

JB: Well I think it comes back to the question of some driver behaving more irresponsibly and I think its probably related to traffic policing, the chances of any particular, well when you drive home this evening, the chances of being seen by a traffic officer, who’s actually out observing the traffic, trying to enforce the traffic laws, the likelihood of you seeing one of those this evening is really quite low, and certainly much lower than it was ten years ago.

SC: So is there a sense that we can say that we’ve been substituting those traffic police with speed cameras ….. .

JB: Yes, but clearly the cameras are in fixed and well known locations and so in effect a lot of the road network is now monitored much less closely than it was before.

SC: He believes a significant minority of dangerous drivers aren’t being dealt with by the current system. These people are more likely to drink and drive, to speed and to drive carelessly. They’re also less likely to have driving licences, to be properly registered, or insured and they aren’t deterred by speed cameras.

The system we’ve got at the moment, in terms of road safety, is really a system to catch law abiding drivers, and the ones who are driving illegally are unlicensed they haven’t got a chance of being caught and less chance of being caught than they used to, do you think that is a fair assessment.

JB: I can, yes I can sympathise with that, I mean certainly with the camera based systems now, it means that there’s a financial advantage in having false number plates, shall we say, because you can then speed and when the speeding ticket is sent to the owner of that car, it won’t be you, so it does rely on honesty.

SC: Someone who is well aware of flaw, is the infamous campaigner, Captain Gatso. He devoted huge amounts of time and energy trying to undermine speed cameras, by helping to vandalise them, or making sure he is never caught by them. I went for drive with him in a camera hot-spot in North London.

Driving round on the North Circular (CG Yep) does it bother you that when you are driving that you get caught on a speed camera then.

CG: I tend not to bother, I’m not particularly interested with the speed limits, the signage, or the cameras, um ..

SC: Aren’t you scared of getting caught.

CG: Your talking to a man who has never been successfully prosecuted by any speed entrapment device.

SC: If you actually get done on a speed camera that takes a picture of your car, how come your not getting a fine or points on your licence.

CG: The road traffic act states that you can register you car any where you like in the UK. It may, or may not, be where you live. It may be your office, it may be an accommodation address, but the fantastic thing is when those nasty letters come through about you transgressing a bus lane or not paying the congestion charge, or getting a parking ticket, they can all go in the file marked bin. I can tell you now, quite categorically myself, other people on the internet, if you forget about these tickets that come through the post, or put them in the bin, there’re a very high likelihood you don’t get a repeat notice. Sometimes you do get a reminder, and sometimes you don’t, you may hear nothing more again.

SC: Aren’t you worried that eventually they will catch up with you and find out that this address that you’ve given is not actually where you live.

CG: Well funny enough, err, via the internet we’re running an accommodation address up in Chelmsford where hundreds of motorists are registering their vehicles and their not interested in all these fines and paraphernalia and road tax.

SC: So you go round with your group setting these speed cameras on fire, destroying them, committing crime, you tell us your speeding, what gives you the right to do that.

CG: They’re costing peoples licenses and livelihoods. You know they are causing a misery and worry.

SC: There’s an easy way of avoiding that then, just drive within the speed limit.

CG: The speed limits are all wrong. I think its personal responsibility, but you know the adverts on television, your being told this all this now about slow down your kill me if you hit me at 30 I’m gonna die. Ok, that kid walked out in the road without looking, listening to the Ipod, texting away on the mobile phone,

PR, so its their fault, so its the child.

CG: Its personal responsibility. When I was at school we had the tufty club, we had cycling proficiency. What happened, we’re not taught these things any more.

SC: But when you were a kid, more kids were dying crossing the road than they are now.
CG: I don’t think they were. I think we’re all being told a, we’re all being told a big lie, its for people in jobs to provide big money for technology companies. We need to see police out on the streets and we need to see discretion, common sense prevail.

SC: So could he and hundreds of other really get away with registering their cars at the same address in Essex. We checked with the local force, who say they were aware of a house where 45 cars were registered and they had taken action against one person. What action exactly, well from what we could gather, he was ticked off. I wondered what Meredydd Hughes, the chief constable of South Yorkshire the roads spokesman for Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), made of this.

MH: Where a pattern emerges and with the computerised use of the data that we have, it is relatively straight forward to identify these addresses. Thank you for the information, because it will help me find Captain Gatso and deal with him as a criminal.
SC: The loophole that Captain Gatso is exploiting is the fact that in some areas there are so many speeding tickets issued, that if you make it hard for the authorities to find you, or just ignore them all together, its unlikely that you’ll be tracked down. Take London for example, the cameras catch around half a million people a year. A third of these can’t be prosecuted, because the vehicles can’t be trace to an address. Some’ll be foreign, others won’t be registered at all with the DVLA, or there might be technical faults with the cameras. That leave 350,000 people who have been caught and sent a dreaded Notice of Intent to Prosecute.

The authorities have an address for these people and a photo of them breaking the law. So how many end up actually getting a fine and points on their licence. 90%, 75%, 60% maybe. Well the actual answer is 48%, less than half, and its a similar situation in many of Britain’s big cities. Its difficult to produce precise national figures, as there are differences in the way some areas collect their data. Some use speed awareness courses as an alternative to penalty points, some cases of course end up being heard in court, but according to figures to us by the Safety Camera Partnerships, hundreds of thousands of drivers across the country are getting away with it. Kevin Delany, the former head of the Met’s traffic police, believes these statistics are evidence of a wider problem.

KD: Speed cameras, and any other form of sort of remote enforcement, relies on a data base being accurate. In this case the data base at the vehicle licensing centre. It relies on you and I and your listeners all registering our vehicles in our name, and fortunately, for those in authority, we do, but if you don’t register vehicles in your own name, then of course any form of remote immediately falls flat. Again you see a traffic cop wouldn’t have this sort of problem. A traffic cop would have you on the side of the road and you wouldn’t be going anywhere until he, or she, was satisfied that you were who you said you were. And to some extent this is one of the benefit of the automatic number plate reading system in the so called ANPR cameras, which actually do interrogate the data bases and do flag up suspect vehicles. But again you know, those things don’t exist magically, they rely on a body of policemen up the road to actually step into the road, stop the vehicle and ask the questions.

SC: (police siren noises and chatter in background) This is the future of roads policing that he’s talking about. In South East London a high-tech ANPR unit has swung into action. It reads number plates and instantly spots the drivers who are breaking the law

Police background: (police siren noise) Papa X-ray Zero Five, Papa X-ray Zero Five, information report, possibly on stolen plates.

SC: That’s one you’ve’ that’s just come up, en it.

Police constable (PC): That it, its just gone past the van.

SC: and that might be stolen.

PC: On stolen plates, it could be a wringer it could be a … (police radio: the one behind the traffic car).

SC: So what’s happing here then, on this screen.

PC: have you looked at the back of the screen (?), I’ve got four cameras here. I’ve got two coloured cameras and two infra-red, so what your seein down here is the infra-red cam.., picture and the other view is the colour. So what’s happening, here that’s read that vehicle, its checked it against our data bases on the van (bleeping noise), echo x-ray fifty three, echo x-ray fifty three, a little mini, no keeper.

SC: What does that mean, no keeper.

PC: Its not registered with the DVLA.

SC: If your not registered with the DVLA, you don’t exist. That means no speeding fines, no congestion charge, or even having to pay insurance. It also means your more likely to be committing other bigger crimes. I moved around the corner from the van, where 20 police officers lay in wait, and a pursuit car was there, just in case.

PC2; There’s one that has just driven off, and they tried to stop it and then (siren noise) as you can probably hear, two police cars now after that, the white van, they pulled him over, he didn’t stop, drove on and now he’s got two police cars on his tail, one marked car and an unmarked police car.

SC: In charge of the operation is sergeant Edie Tingle, who give me a run-down of the crimes they’ve had that morning.

ET: Quick update for you now, twenty past twelve now, hour and twenty minutes, six or seven cars have been seized now, no insurance, no driving licence, three arrests now, two earlier on, and this chap who’s failed to stop has been arrested around the corner. He’s been arrested for failing to stop for the police, and he’s also disqualified from driving.

SC: In your briefing this morning you know you the officers were being told about the unregistered cars and trying to stop those. Is that a big problem in the ….

ET: Well it is a big problem. Well in any major investigation, any major investigation, if there’s a car that’s been seen, the first port of call is to find out where that car is. Now if you are not registering a car, which is what you are supposed to be doing, that’s hindering that investigation. Also why aren’t you registering that vehicle, is it because, um, because you’re a career … criminal, is it (police radio: read no keeper), is it because you drive into London a lot and you don’t want to pay the congestion charge. Is it because your worried about getting points on your licence, in the advent of all the speed cameras, it could be a number of reasons, it might just be your absent minded, but you need to register your car, that’s the law, you have to register your car.

SC: Yare, we were talking to people who register their cars elsewhere to avoid things like speeding fines.

ET: No, we do get that as well, I don’t know the percentages, but we do get people who register their cars, they’ll put their names back-to-front. If your name is James John, they’ll register the car in John James, with the next-door neighbours address. Any little thing to try’n get out of, um, the speed cameras, or the congestion charge, any little thing where they think they can throw the computers off, creating a little bit of, um, doubt and ambiguity as to the ownership of the car, but um, now-a-days the authorities are wise to that and they are following up with home visits now, finding out why the car is registered in such a way, so these little loop-holes are all closing down, you know, these little things that people are trying to do to avoid it, at the end of the day if your name is John James, register the car in John James. If you live at 34 Acacia Avenue, you register the car at 34 Acacia Avenue.

SC: This operation was a success. The ANPR team are clearly focussed on the bigger fish, people wanted for carrying guns or violent crime. People like Captain Gatso, who deliberately avoid paying their speeding fines, are well down their wish list. London’s road safety ambassador, Jenny Jones, wants a thousand more speed cameras in the capital, but she also believes the problem of rouge drivers is so serious, she wants a major shift in policing. Do you think we’ve sacrificed traffic policing and road policing, and just relied too much on cameras. We’ve kind of given it over to cameras.

JJ: I think we have. I think that cameras do perform a function, but only within certain limits and after that you simply have to have bodies on the street. Its been in the last seven years I’ve been on the police authority and I have fought very, very hard for them to increase road policing, and it has happened a little bit, but quite honestly its like trying to push water uphill and I think I’m getting to the point when I feel I could accuse the Met, or the senior officers in the Met, and the commissioner, of manslaughter, because they know these deaths and injuries are avoidable, they’re preventable through good policing, and yet murders, there’s fewer murders in London than there are road deaths, and yet murders have a phenomenal amount of resourcing, and it seems to me quite out of proportion if you look at that. Why we are not actually preventing the death we can, and perhaps spending a bit less of murders we can’t prevent, we can only prosecute.

SC: The call for more traffic police was one we heard over and over again. MPs, academics, even the notorious Captain Gatso want more. So how do the police respond. Meredydd Hughes is chief constable for South Yorkshire and road spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Now we’ve spoken to everyone from London Roads Ambassador to the self styled vigilantly, Captain Gatso, and bizarrely they agree on one thing, which is, we need more traffic police on the roads. Do you think they are right.

MH: Jolly good, I’m gonna agree with them to. Now that’s the only time we’re going to hear me agreeing with Captain Gatso. The point is this is that I would love to see more counter terrorist police officers, more burglary detection officers and I’d love to see more roads policing officers, because road policing cops, traffic cops, make a real contribution to every aspect of policing.

SC: So why aren’t we getting more traffic police, is it something is up to the individual chief constable. You can decide if I want more traffic police, I can put them out there.

MH: Well you’ve got to afford them first and you’ve got to afford a real expansion of police officers. Now over the next three years we’re set to see a reduction in the number of police officers. I hope, and in my force, you won’t see fewer officers on the street, but you’ll see more civilian, or non-police officers in key roles. I hope to maintain the number of roads policing officers and I am committed to trying to increase those numbers.

SC: Speed cameras do have a part to play in road safety. Most of us, if we are honest, have become more careful about the speed limit since they were introduced on a large scale, but they have limits. They can’t catch the dangerous and unregistered drivers, for that you need more traffic police. They cost more money though at a time when forces are having to tighten their belts. But if we rely too much on cameras, it could be a dangerous policy and even end up costing lives.

Announcer: The Investigation was presented by Simon Cox, the producer was Richard Barton.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 20:01 
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Joined: Thu Apr 28, 2005 00:01
Posts: 2258
Location: South Wales
Since no-one else has replied. I'd just like to say thanks for going to the effort of typing this up. Listen Again links have usually expired by the time I notice posts here, so it's nice to see what was actually said for once.

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2007 21:51 

Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2005 20:19
Posts: 306
Location: Crewe
I hope everybody reading the transcript noted the comments of the sinister Jenny Jones who effectively said "The police shouldn't bother about murders in London, they should harass and bully the motorist instead".

Good manners maketh a good motorist

 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 21, 2007 07:59 

Joined: Thu Mar 25, 2004 19:19
Posts: 1050
So the summary...

there's questionable benefit and questionable side effects and only those who register their vehicle get caught. The really dangerous are invisible and the police response is more automated enforcement

kind of a waste of a billion pounds then?

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