2/9/2006UK Official: Speed Camera Partnerships Unaccountable
Road safety experts call for an independent assessment of speed camera programs in the UK.
UK Roads Minister Stephen Ladyman admitted in questioning before parliament last Thursday that the organizations that operate the nation's speed camera programs are neither legal nor accountable.
"Safety Camera Partnerships are not however a legal entity," Ladyman said. "They complement, not replace, existing local authority and police statutory responsibilities in respect of road safety."
The partnerships are comprised of government entities including police, the Highways Agency, and prosecutors all paid from the profits generated by the speed cameras. This system has raised questions about the objectivity of the photo enforcement program.
"Safety Camera Partnerships are not therefore directly accountable to any elected bodies," Ladyman continued. "However each member of the partnership does remain locally accountable to its parent body."
Road safety expert Paul Smith, founder of Safe Speed sees Ladyman's admission as a call for reform.
"While the camera partnerships remain unaccountable we should not be surprised to see them running out of control," Smith said. "Their behaviour is extraordinary. They bluff, bluster and intimidate the public. They publish highly misleading statistics. They fail to inform the public even when they have made gross errors."
Smith is calling for an independent Camera Partnership Commissioner to review complaints and enforce a written code of conduct for camera operations. He would ensure the public receives fair treatment and that honest statistics would be used to measure the effects of the program on motorists.