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Letter to the Editor

In response to our article, Speed Camera Tickets in Malta Invalid, Dr. Ian Micallef, Local Councils Association President, writes as follows:

The article entitled "Speed Camera Tickets in Malta Invalid" raises a number of issues that need to be clarified because the implications in the article are not necessarily correct.

First of all, it is important to point out that the fixed Speed Camera Systems in use by Local Warden Agencies in Malta have a very clear parentage. The units are operated by Local Warden Agencies on behalf of Local Councils through a tender for Local Warden Services awarded in January 2005.

The article gives the impression that the equipment was haphazardly bought from a back-alley flea market and put together with the hope of making the things work. In reality, things don't work that way when you choose a serious supplier.

The choice of the particular make of the speed cameras was reached after a long deliberation and was based on a number of important factors. The first factor was the fact that the units chosen have some of the highest legal security factors of any equipment of its kind. In simple terms, unlike conventional radar based speed-measuring equipment, the system uses a tracking radar which measures the speed of vehicles up to 21 times per second, and the measurement of speed is then taken from the subsequent track that is taken of the vehicle. The element of high legal security comes into play because the radar system automatically checks that the radar is correctly calibrated every so many minutes and unless the radar is properly calibrated at the time of the speeding incident, then the resulting track and image are rejected by the system. The accuracy and legal security of these machines are backed by the fact that they are the only radar system approved by the Swedish Traffic Police Board - and that the supplier has just been awarded a contract by the Swedish Government to install about 700 of these systems throughout the country.

Furthermore, in February 2005 the speed camera equipment was checked for compliance with relevant EU directives relating to such equipment. The Malta Communications Authority found no objection to this equipment being used in terms of the RTTE directive and the Malta Standards Authority found no non-compliances' of this equipment with the Product Safety Act and that no metrological controls have been prescribed for such equipment under the Metrology Act. In view of this, the equipment was deemed to be complaint with both EU and national law and was approved.

In terms of calibration, the manufacturer runs in-house tests using certified equipment and following a set procedure on all units prior to commissioning and issues an approved test report for each radar unit. The manufacturer also recommends that the radar units are checked by a competent laboratory at intervals of 12 months of usage to ensure that everything is working correctly. The article in The Malta Independent (your source) correctly states that there is no accredited lab able to test these units in Malta - and if one were to consider the cost and expertise required for such a lab, this would not come as a surprise. However one fails to see the problem here when it is the contractor's standard practice to courier the radar unit to an accredited lab abroad for tests whenever required. The argument is that so long as the lab performing the tests and issuing the calibration certificates is properly accredited to international standards, it is irrelevant whether the lab is in Malta or not.

In your article you refer to a Tribunal case of a certain Mr. Bonello who challenged the accuracy of the Speed Camera Systems. While it is understandable that Mr. Bonello would do his utmost to get out of a speeding fine, in the light of the above, one half wonders how accurate his speedometer is and which accredited labs calibrate it every year....

Dr Ian Micallef
Chairman - Local Enforcement System Management Committee

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