County may get speed cameras

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By Paul Whitehouse
A SPEED camera partnership could be established in North Yorkshire for the first time as a result of talks between the new chief constable and councils in the county.
North Yorkshire is one of the few areas in the country where there is no such organisation and as a result the county has no fixed roadside cameras, with speed enforcement done by regular police patrols.

In virtually all other force areas, including the three other regional forces, police work with councils and other bodies to operate a partnership to improve road safety by reducing traffic speeds.

The new chief constable for North Yorkshire, Grahame Maxwell, was appointed last month after serving with the West and South Yorkshire forces, which each operate safety camera partnerships.

Mr Maxwell is an advocate of the cameras and is now planning to hold talks with councils in his new force's area about the future for how speed limits are enforced.

Historically, no partnership was established in the county because of its geographical size, with 6,000 miles of highways.

Accident locations were widespread, rather than concentrated on specific blackspots making it difficult to provide effective enforcement and to stick to strict rules governing the use of cameras.

However, those rules have been changed which may make a partnership viable and Mr Maxwell said he believed cameras helped improve safety.

"Cameras are about reducing death on the roads and I have been a big supporter of safety cameras and will not change my view now," he said.

"We will sit down with the local authorities, district and county councils, and try to determine whether the use of safety cameras is an effective tactic.

"If it is, I would not have any objection whatsoever to introducing them. We want people to enjoy their visits to North Yorkshire, not to leave in an ambulance."

Fixed speed cameras were originally introduced in the 1990s, but the arrangements were formalised several years later with the establishment of the partnerships.

In practice, they mean much more enforcement work is done than police can achieve alone.

That is partly because fixed camera sites do not absorb staff time and mobile cameras carried in vans or on motorbikes are operated either by police on overtime or by civilian staff.

The partnerships originally claimed back their running
costs from the Government, with the excess raised from fines being kept by the Treasury, but now each is awarded a fixed sum annually to pay for its operations.

The partnerships have been heavily criticised by some sections of the motoring public, who regard them as a way of making money from fines rather than a genuine safety aid, but it is claimed statistics prove their benefit.

Improving road casualty rates is one of the North Yorkshire force's priorities and it has just relaunched the Bike Safe initiative, aimed at educating motorcyclists about the danger they face on the roads.

North Yorkshire is a popular destination for motorbike riders because of its network of open, but quiet, roads.

The force has also recently announced a crackdown on drink-driving, with the use of checkpoints, to try to reduce the danger from motorists drinking more than is safe before driving.

Last Updated: 14 June 2007