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Speed-cam fines topped out in 2005

Strangely, UK.gov eased off in 2006

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New falling motor-crime figures for 2005 published by the UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ? MinJ?) could be interpreted in a number of ways.

The Times and the RAC Foundation are pretty sure what they think.

"Public outrage leads to first fall in number of speed camera fines" runs the Thunderer headline.

“This shows the outcry by millions of drivers has finally paid off," the RAC's Edmund King told the tabloidsheet.

"There is no doubt that enforcement was getting out of hand, particularly with the use of speed cameras.

“The authorities have finally realised that showing a small degree of flexibility can be more effective than huge numbers of fines, even though they are making less money.”

The main number behind this is a 2 per cent drop in speed-cam fines during 2005, from 1.91 million to 1.87 million.

"The number is likely to have continued falling in 2006 because the policy that allowed police to keep a proportion of the fines to pay for more cameras ended in April of that year," says the Times.

So, just to be clear. Public outrage led the government to restrict cameras-begetting-cameras in 2006 - but the total number of fines actually fell in 2005, while the cams were still merrily breeding away.

We don't yet know what effect - if any - the outrage-driven policy change may have had. We do know that even with free camera growth, fines topped out anyway.

It's much the same story with parking fines, which saw a 3.5 per cent drop in 2005, a year before local ticketing targets were abolished by central government.

Is all this a case of public outrage rolling back over-aggressive enforcement, or a savage automated crackdown cowing the population into submission? Or even - as the government would no doubt contend - a case of drivers finally beginning to obey the democratically-enacted laws of the land after effective enforcement came in (paid for mostly by dangerous criminals rather than law-abiding citizens)?

Or is the law just an ass, sometimes? Perhaps 30mph in built-up areas is fair enough, though there are those who say it should be slower still; but is a 70mph cap really required on motorways? The Germans certainly don't think so.

You decide; the Times bit is here. And don't forget the less-visible privacy and surveillance issues attendant on the still-rapidly-growing nationwide ANPR numberplate-cam networks. ®

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