Bedfordshire Police Commissioner expresses his intent to turn Speed Cameras into cash generators for police funding
Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Olly Martins proposed to raise money for his force by permanently switching the SMART Motorway cameras on the M1 motorway between Junction 10 to Junction 13.
Never before has a senior Police officer publicly announced that the cameras are there to generate income, as opposed to enforcing safety measures. His comments have been labelled as ‘outrageous’ by local motorists who understandably feel as though they are being victimised by the Police for the Government’s shortcomings.
Mr Martins (pictured above) said: "I am running out of levers to pull to keep Bedfordshire Police viable. We've had a council tax referendum. We've extensively lobbied the Home Office for fair funding but they haven't listened and the chancellor's spending review at the end of the month means we face more cuts.”
He justified his intentions by stating: "Strict enforcement of the speed limit could raise £1m and to me that's better than losing 25 more police officers." These comments come days after Mr Martins posted a job vacancy searching for an assistant, earning £30,000 (which is £3,500 over the average national wage) while the role is only 3 days a week.
To raise the necessary £1 million the cameras would need to catch 28,000 motorists and put them on a speed-awareness course, each paying the £90 fee of which the government receives £35. This amounts to 76 drivers caught every single day. Olly Martins said that he wanted a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to speeding, so drivers caught just 1mph over the limit could choose to pay £100 and have points added to their licence, or alternatively pay £90 for the awareness course.
However, when Motoring.co.uk raised this issue with the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC), they refuted the claims that speed cameras are cash generators for police forces up and down the country.
A spokeswoman from NPCC said, “This statement was made by one police and crime commissioner relating to their individual force. The NPCC position is that speed cameras are used for road safety, not income generation.”
Central government fund
Similarly, the official spokeswoman for the Prime Minister reported on Thursday saying: “We are very clear that speed cameras should be about safety, not about raising cash”
“The point we would make to those thinking about using them for other means is that it is important to note that revenue generated from speeding offences doesn't go to police forces, it goes to a central fund.”
Motorists are already contributing a huge amount to the Government through charges such as Vehicle Excise Duty, Insurance Premium Tax, Fuel Duty, VAT on the vehicle, Company Car Tax and the Vehicle First Registration Tax. Add to this congestion charge for Londoners, rates for things like the Dartford Crossing and the M6 toll and it is easy to see why motorists are feeling perturbed. Where do we, the general public, draw the line?