Published: 11th October 2006
Police jail warning to speed camera vandals

POLICE have condemned vandals who attacked a speed camera in Shaw.

In the latest in a series of attacks on Oldham’s 17 cameras, the outer casing of the camera in Newhey Road was pelted with stones and vandalised with litter.

Over the last two years speed cameras in Chadderton and Werneth have been targeted and their lenses damaged with silver spray.

And earlier this year vandals used cutting gear to sever the head of a camera unit, at the bottom of Abbeyhills Road, near Holts.

PC Phil Matthews, from the Casualty Reduction Partnership, warned anyone caught damaging cameras faces jail.

"Anti-social people should know that there is nothing to be gained from damaging cameras," he said.

"The cameras reduce the speed of vehicles. Cameras save lives and have been proven to do so. The biggest killer of 12 to 16-year-olds is speed. Not many people know that.

"They are hard fought for by local people, so it beggars belief why people want to destroy them. There is a need to protect that.

"Vandalism is both a criminal and anti-social act, which the courts take seriously. Imprisonment on conviction is a real possibility."

The Newhey Road camera was installed in July 2005 after the location was highlighted as an accident blackspot.

Over two years police recorded three serious accidents and eight casualties including two children.

In the 15 months since there have been no reported accidents.

PC Matthews said the camera had been cleaned up.

"It is back in action doing what it does best, reducing the number of speeding vehicles along that road," he said.

"We are committed to repairing them. We have a strong and robust policy to continue replacing them."

Speed enforcement cameras were first introduced to the UK in 1992 in a bid to reduce the startling number of fatal accidents and serious injuries. In Oldham they are operated by Drivesafe – the casualty reduction partnership – which spends £265,000 per year maintaining and installing cameras.

Despite numerous studies arguing that the cameras reduce casualties by up to 35 per cent, some critics believe they are a form of road tax and raising revenue.

Anyone photographed driving too fast is hit with a fine of at least £60 and has points on their licence. The more serious the speeding, the more points and bigger the fine. However drivers can go on special speed awareness courses to reduce both.

In September a railway worker was jailed for four months after blowing up a speed camera in Manchester which had caught him speeding.
Stuart Greer

First published by the Oldham Advertiser