Spotlight on speed camera variations

A SPEED camera expert has hit out at the county variation in the amount raised in fines after new figures revealed Essex motorists paid out more than twice as much as those in Suffolk.

A SPEED camera expert has hit out at the county variation in the amount raised in fines after new figures revealed Essex motorists paid out more than twice as much as those in Suffolk.

The latest Safety Camera Partnerships accounts show £4.7 million was raised in speed camera fines in Essex, while Suffolk generated £2m.

In Suffolk the amount raised in fines dropped by 16 per cent while the number of speeding tickets issued in the county also fell by 10pc to 42,198.

And Philip's Road Atlases, which published the figures yesterday, said Suffolk's Safety Camera Partnership “gave motorists a further break by becoming less efficient at collecting the money off those motorists who received fixed penalty notices”.

It collected 83pc of fines, compared with 92pc in 2004/05.

The number of tickets issued in Essex fell by 25pc - the third biggest decrease in England and Wales - to 107,211 in 2005/06. But it raised 0.5pc more in fines than the previous year, the research says.

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The figures were obtained from the Department for Transport by speed camera expert Stephen Mesquita.

“There are still huge inconsistencies from one county to the next - reinforcing the motorists' instincts that speed cameras are unfair,” he said.

“We need an urgent review of the whole industry to answer this vital question - is this really the best way to spend this money to save lives on our roads?”

In comparison to the amount raised in fixed penalty notices in Suffolk and Essex, Norfolk raised more than £1.3m, while Cambridgeshire's figure was nearly £1.3m.

It means every man, woman and child in Suffolk paid the equivalent of £2.87 each - placing it in eleventh position out of 37 in a table of Safety Camera Partnerships in England and Wales. In Essex, the fines were the equivalent of £2.88 per person, placing it tenth.

Terry Marsh, Suffolk Safety Camera Partnership project manager, said: “The reason that we prosecuted fewer people was because fewer people were breaking the speed limit.

“The result of fewer people breaking the speed limit was fewer people getting hurt in collisions.”

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