6/23/2005UK: $900,000 in Speed Camera Errors
Three separate instances of improperly issued speed camera tickets in London and Lincolnshire, UK could result in refunded fines worth a million.
Three major speed camera mistakes could cost speed camera operators US $900,000 or more. London officials announced today that they will refund £335,000 (US $609,000) worth of speed camera tickets issued to motorists who should not have been ticketed. In Lincolnshire, a court ruling late last week suggests £158,000 (US $287,000) worth of tickets were improperly issued and face legal challenge. Finally, London's chief detective suggested on Sunday the possibility that variable speed limit signs could cause erroneous speeding citations, opening the possibility of thousands of additional camera ticket challenges.
"This is sheer incompetence," said Paul Smith, founder of the Safe Speed road safety campaign. "The inconvenience and the waste of public money is astronomical. With errors being exposed in speed camera prosecutions all over the country, every motorist who receives the dreaded notice must question every detail before he submits the £60 pound fine."
London's Safety Camera Partnership admitted today that a SPECs speed-averaging camera had issued tickets to as many as 5,600 drivers based upon an incorrectly set speed limit. In a statement, the partnership said: "A sign marking the start of a 20mph speed limit zone on Upper Thames Street is incorrectly positioned. As a consequence motorists were being monitored for a 20mph limit whilst still in the 30mph zone for a short distance."
In Lincolnshire, as many as 2,637 motorists could challenge their speed camera tickets after a court on Friday found the speed limit was improperly set. According to the Highway Code, "The 30mph limit applies to all traffic on all roads in England and Wales ... with street lighting unless signs show otherwise." Phil Walker challenged the ticket he received on the A153 at Anwick because the camera was set for 30 MPH. Because there was no sign and the street has no lighting, the actual speed limit was 60 MPH. Although not admitting error, the Crown Prosecution Service withdrew the ticket and have shut down the site's speed camera. Those who received tickets may appeal their conviction.
London's top police detective suggested Sunday that thousands of motorists could appeal convictions on the M25 based upon a problem with matrix signs that display variable speed limits. Press reports have suggested sensor errors caused the signs to display incorrect limits. "Drivers who have been, or are to be, prosecuted in such circumstances may have a right of appeal," Phil Flower, the Detective Chief Superintendent of London's Metropolitan police wrote in the London Times, speaking on his own behalf.
"What is needed is fewer speed cameras, more traffic police and a proper recognition of the skill and importance of their work," he continued.