Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and the Regions Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Annex 5


Background to Netting-off for Speed Camera Funding

  Enforcement cameras were first introduced into the UK in 1991. A number of research studies have proved that they are an extremely effective measure for reducing road casualties. A cost-benefit analysis in 1996 (Hooke et al 1996) showed that cameras paid for themselves five times in the first year of operation alone, once the full benefits to society are considered—including to the Health Service.

  There is an established relationship between reducing speed and reducing collisions: research by TRL (Finch et al 1994) showed that just a one mph reduction in speed reduces collisions by 5 per cent. This figure has now been validated in a more recent study in 2000 also by TRL (Taylor et al 2000).

  In December 1998, the then DETR, Home Office and HM Treasury agreed that fixed penalty fine income from speed and red light cameras, collectively referred to as "Safety Cameras", could be used to fund additional camera enforcement—a recommendation for the original 1996 report. This process was termed hypothecation, although "netting off" is a more technically correct term that is now always used.

  Because of the complexity of the arrangements and relationships that were needed to make netting-off work, it was decided to pilot the approach in a number of areas. The pilots aimed to demonstrate how best to develop a workable relationship between local partnerships comprising local police forces, highways authorities, magistrates' courts and, where appropriate, the Highways Agency. It was also necessary to ensure robust linkages with the many central government departments involved.

  In 1999 thirteen areas submitted bids to pilot the scheme and eight were selected reflecting a balance of geographies, casualty problems and also different approaches to enfocement. The areas chosen were Cleveland, Essex, Lincolnshire, Nottingham, Northamptonshire, South Wales, Strathclyde and Thames Valley.

  These pilots went live in April 2000 and have been monitored against a number of criteria. The main criteria are:

    —  Speed and casualty—can the partnerships demonstrate an effect on speed and casualties in camera locations?

    —  Public acceptance—does the public acknowledge that the primary reason for speed and red-light cameras is road safety?

—  Financial aspects—have the financial arrangements worked without distorting operational priorities?

  Following the success of the eight pilot schemes the Government decided to extend the scheme Nationally, starting in England and Wales, and this was announced in August 2001. The rules for National roll-out are based on those used for the eight pilots with some changes based on experience, and a new requirement to make the cameras more visible and conspicuous to drivers. To date seven new partnerships have been accepted into the scheme and are currently coming on line. These are: Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Norfolk, North Wales, Staffordshire and Warwickshire. Roll-out arrangements for Scotland differ from those in England and Wales due to the separate legal and administrative rules affecting Scotland, and roll-out is expected to follow during 2002.

  The executive summary of the first year report of the pilot schemes (Gains et al 2001) is available from the DTLR website under road safety.

The Rules

  It was important when setting up the systems for "netting off" that arrangements were put in place to prevent potential abuse or distortion of priorities. Detailed rules about participating in the scheme were developed for the pilots and these have been adhered to throughout. Based on the experience of the pilots they have been enhanced, including new requirements about the visibility and conspicuity of safety cameras and signing.

  In summary, the rules for roll-out are as follows:

    —  Partnerships should be made up of the local highway authorities, the courts and the police, and in future include the local Health Authority. In some cases the Highways Agency and Crown Prosecution Service may be a member.

    —  Only costs relating to speed and red-light camera enforcement are considered to be allowable expenditure—the rules are set out in a handbook issued to partnerships that details what is considered to be allowable expenditure.

    —  No organisation is allowed to make a "profit" out of the scheme. Any surplus of fine income over costs incurred must be returned to the Treasury.

    —  All cameras should be located in casualty hot spots with a history of speed-related collisions.

    —  Speed surveys should be conducted prior to camera operation to prove that speeding is a problem at each site.

    —  At the end of the year partnerships are subject to a full audit by the district auditor. This will examine how the money has been spent. Failure to receive a clean audit certificate could result in removal of the privilege to retain the funds.

    —  Cameras shall be visible and conspicuous to drivers, with fixed site housings coloured yellow in most circumstances and mobile enforcement sites required to use marked vehicles and operatives wearing high visibility clothing.

    —  Signs warning of the presence of fixed and mobile cameras shall be placed within one kilometre of fixed sites and at the start of a targeted route for mobile enforcement operations.

Project management—The Project Board

  It was decided before embarking on the netting-off pilot programme that the wide range of governmental and institutional interests involved in speed and red-light camera enforcement must participate in the decision making processes. Because the primary objective was to improve road safety and reduce casualties the project management lead would be with DTRL (was DETR initially). A Safety Camera Project Board was established early in 1999, chaired and serviced by DTLR, and continues to oversee the project. Officials from the following organisations are members of the Project Board: DTLR, The Highways Agency, Lord Chancellor's Department, HM Treasury, the Home Office, the Crown Prosecution Service, Scottish Executive, National Assembly for Wales ACPO and local authority representation by the CSS and LGA.

  To assist itself and the Project Board, DTLR appointed PA Consulting Group as project managers to manage the day to day running of the project, to provide professional advice and to advise the Project Board about progress and performance of the pilots areas, and the new areas now joining the scheme. New partnership areas are coming on line with the decision by ministers to roll-out the scheme Nationally from August 2001, and they are also subject to the performance monitoring and auditing.

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