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Sharp rise in roadside speeding fines raises questions over use
Study calls for revenues to be invested in community projects
The statistics, published under Freedom of Information legislation, show that from April 1 until December 31 last year, police using speed guns collected £3,130,360 in fixed penalty fines, compared with £2,202,240 in the whole of 2011-12, a rise of 42%. The total for 2013-14 is likely to be considerably higher when revenues from January 1 to March 31 are added.
Over the same period, revenues collected by speed cameras fell by 24% from £3,190,500 to £2,414,600. The figures appear to support the belief that, as drivers become more familiar with locations of fixed speed cameras, their detection rate is reduced.
Lothian and Borders recorded the highest rise of roadside speeding fines, 95%, during this period compared with 77% in Tayside Central and Fife and 58% in North Strathclyde. The lowest rise, 1.3%, was in Strathkelvin and Bearsden.
The research, conducted by http://www.thinktastic.co.uk, an Edinburgh-based public policy strategy organisation, supports the conviction among some politicians and organisations that police using mobile cameras are despatched to roads with little or no history of accidents, principally as a revenue raising exercise.
Last month the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents called for a review of the way mobile speed cameras are deployed, suggesting current practices were like
“shooting fish in a barrel” and did little to save lives.
The research shows that police collected more than £5million a year in traffic fines last year while local authorities collected more than £12million in parking fines.
In the past three years Edinburgh Council has collected £15,089,364 in parking fines, compared with £13,746,448 in Glasgow and £4,448,000 in Aberdeen.
Mike Stevenson, managing director of http://www.thinktastic.co.uk, who advises public bodies on community wellbeing, has proposed that Scotland adopts a scheme similar to that introduced in Sweden, called The Speed Camera Lottery.
Drivers who stick to the speed limit are rewarded by having their registration number entered in a prize lottery draw, while those who breach the limit are penalised and their fines are paid into a central fund to finance projects which benefit communities.
The Swedish scheme, sponsored by Volkswagon, resulted in average speed falling by 22%.
“People resent paying speeding and parking fines and these figures appear to show the arbitrariness of some organisations in applying penalties,” said Stevenson.
“We are passing no judgement either way but what the Swedish experience shows is that by using a bit of creative thinking, we can take something as hated as traffic fines and turn them into something positive.”
Because speeding fines are administered by the Scottish Courts Service, the figures are broken down by Sheriffdom.
The area that collected the highest revenues in both categories in the first nine months of 2013-14 was South Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway (£1,287,300)
Figures for parking fines are an underestimate of the total as fines in a third of local authority areas are issued by police and administered by the Scottish Courts Service which does not record them as separate offences.
Of those council areas which did publish figures, most have recorded a drop in revenues over the past year with the exception of Aberdeen, which saw a 12% rise to £1,508.891.
For a full copy of the research, contact Thinktastic on http://www.thinktastic.co.uk
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