10/15/2006UK: Hidden Camera Proves Money is Motivation for Speed Cameras
Undercover camera captures speed camera official, a former police chief, describes photo enforcement as a scam to make money.
A hidden camera captured a speed camera executive and former police chief admitting that their photo enforcement tools were part of a "scam." Jon Bond, CEO of Tele-Traffic, the UK's top laser speed camera importer, spoke with an undercover Mail on Sunday journalist who had posed as a prospective customer from Eastern Europe. Bond had previously been Chief Superintendent for the Warwickshire police and was responsible for establishing the area's speed camera program five years ago. Many of Bond's top employees now are former police officers.
"There will be so much money coming in you won't know what to do with it," Bond said. "It's a blank checkbook.... The money will come in in buckets."
Bond also described the way speed camera partnerships operated by supplying regional ticket targets to the Department for Transport. Warwickshire set a goal of 80,000 tickets. If, for example, it had only issued 60,000 tickets, the partnership would have to pay 20,000 out of its own pocket to the central government. If 100,000 tickets were issued, the Treasury would keep the revenue from the 20,000 extra tickets. The system is designed to encourage low initial targets to ensure those extra payments flow to the Treasury.
"This was done so the Government wasn't perceived to be revenue raising," Bond said. "But the reality is that the government is actually raking off even more money than before... So it's all a scam -- it's smoke and mirrors."
Bond explained that he was limited to issuing 80,000 citations because beyond that, the court system was unable to cope with the load. The solution was to send police to low-volume roads to slow down the work load.
"Imagine 80,000 checks for £60 coming through your door in a given year," Bond said. "[The courts] were swamped and we are the smallest of all the speed partnerships.... I had to send the camera operators out to roads where they would only catch one or two people an hour."
Road safety activist Paul Smith of Safe Speed was not surprised by the revelations. "Speed cameras are 21st century snake oil," Smith said. "Many of the purveyors are charlatans, and all of them are wrong. The widespread side effects of the infernal cameras conspire to damage road safety, the police public relationship, respect for the judiciary, respect for official road safety messages and significantly worsen the experience of living in Britain."
Smith demanded a criminal investigation of the matter.
In 2001, a former employee for Lockheed Martin IMS (now ACS) testified in a pivotal San Diego, California red light camera trial that the program's only motivation was revenue generation. Trial documents confirmed that cameras were placed not at the most dangerous but the most profitable locations.
"It's all about money as far as I was concerned," Arnone said.