Cameras knocked out by vandals

VANDALS have been on the rampage across Suffolk, targeting – and knocking out – all fixed-site speed cameras in the county, The Evening Star can reveal today.

By James Fraser

VANDALS have been on the rampage across Suffolk, targeting – and knocking out – all fixed-site speed cameras in the county, The Evening Star can reveal today.

But police have vowed they can – and will – continue to catch speeding drivers by usual methods.

Suffolk's top traffic cop has roundly condemned the spate of attacks, which police believe may be linked, on three sites. The spy cameras on the A14, A12 and the A140 still await repair.


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The attackers are believed to have struck on the night of April 9 and early hours on April 10 at the camera locations on the A14 at Haughley, on the A12 by-pass at Benhall and the Coddenham junction of the A140.

One theory that a disgruntled motorist may have gone on the rampage was dismissed by a police spokesman as "speculation".

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Chief Inspector Mike Gooch, head of the Suffolk police traffic unit, acknowledged the vandals have put road-users' lives at risk – and it is a bitter blow for the Evening Star campaign to cut the toll of injury and death on the notorious A140 as well as highlighting the dangers of the busy A14.

"These cameras were put in place to encourage drivers to adhere to restricted speed limits in areas where there was considered to be a high risk of accidents," said Ch Insp Gooch. "By attacking the cameras these offenders have potentially put lives at risk."

At the site of the camera at the Coddenham junction, one person has died and 25 have been injured in the five years previous to their installation just two months ago. On the stretch overlooked by the camera at Benhall on the A12, which was set up at the same time, 35 have been injured in the same period.

But out-of-action cameras did not mean that drivers could escape the law if they broke speed limits on Suffolk's highways, stressed a police spokesman

Three mobile cameras are still at the force's disposal, as well as the hi-tech gadgetry in police traffic cars and motorbikes, he said.

"We can move the mobile cameras at a moment's notice – they can crop up anywhere. We also have all the technology in traffic cars, including hand-held radars, which we use every day.

"Just because these fixed site cameras have been temporarily out of action doesn't mean that those who speed can get away with it," he said.

He added that the line of investigation that the cameras were systematically targeted in one violent nighttime spree "couldn't be ruled out". The cameras would be repaired "shortly", he said.

Police have been pleased with the success of the £205,000 camera that guards the 50mph limit stretch on the Haughley bends. It was installed by the Highway Agency in June 2000.

The Coddenham junction carries a same speed limit after Suffolk County Council extended the limit, one of the measures it introduced to reduce the number of accidents on one of Suffolk's most dangerous roads.

The camera was placed there to catch motorists speeding on the dual carriage stretch of the route.

Suffolk County Council took over responsibility from the Highways Agency – as well as the Ipswich to Lowestoft stretch of the A12 which includes the site of the incident at Benhall – in May last year.

* Anyone who may have seen someone acting suspiciously at the camera sites should contact Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or call Crimestoppers in confidence on 0800 555111.

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