Recent stories had us believing that government cuts were forcing the widespread shutting down of traffic police fixed speed camera operations.
These cameras had always been touted by motoring organisations as
government ‘cash cows’ being used to milk the motorist for even more money. But if cost cutting is shutting them down then it means one of two things. Either that central government was taking too much out of the fine and not passing it back to the force operating it. Or that it was always actually a money loser in the first place. If the former then making their use more widespread and making sure forces had enough money to operate them would be good for government revenue. But, if the latter, the cameras will continue to be shut down as austerity bites even deeper.
Unless of course a cheaper way can be found to run them. What if they were given to private companies to run for profit like parking fines?
That is the scenario raised by an Express report.
It seems that the recent relief for the hard pressed motorist is only going to be a temporary one. But it would also mean the re-writing of the rule that fines can only be issued under the authority of the area chief constable and then collected only by court officials.
The whole point of a private company is to make money. The reason any company would involve themselves in this is to make money. The possible safety outcome is just a by-product that is hopefully properly planned in to the procedure. Just like helping small businesses is planned in to what a bank actually does, which is make money. We could end up with camera toting cowboys setting up willy-nilly to target motorists in perfectly safe areas.
Set a camera up without warning on just about any stretch of motorway and you can fill your boots with fines.
There is also the question of proper calibration. Who would ensure that the cameras were working properly and not set to go off just that tad lower to make a bit more dosh?
Then of course is the question of what could they fine the motorist for? Straying out of a lane? Lights not working? A quick high res snapshot of the tyres at the traffic lights? Jumping red lights?
Also, if the cameras are privately operated what protection is given to them from vandalism? Probably not the same level as they enjoy at present one would imagine.
Well, the puritanical would say just put any concern that gets involved out of business by staying within the law. Simples!