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UK: Speed Camera Penalties Adjusted to Meet Revenue Goals
Thames Valley, UK speed camera program plans course fee hikes to make up for deficit as more locations drop automated enforcement.

Thames Valley PoliceSpeed camera operators in the UK are looking to hike costs for "educational courses" and redeploy cameras to more lucrative locations to address a growing budget deficit. The options for the Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership were discussed in an August 11 strategy meeting, the minutes for which were obtained from a freedom of information request. The partnership consists of local police agencies, local council members, the courts and the staff who run the speed cameras themselves.

The organization is reeling from a decision by Conservative government of Prime Minister David Cameron to reduce significantly national funding of automated ticketing machines -- funding that flourished under the previous Labour government. The Thames Valley group was forced to deal with an across-the-board cut of 27 percent.

Reading, which contributed £125,000 (US $193,000) in 2011 funding to the partnership, gave up on its speed cameras September 27. Oxfordshire also dumped cameras earlier this year, with both actions causing severe monetary problems to the camera group.

"There is currently a budget deficit of £203,000 (US $314,000) which could rise to £265,000 (US $410,000) without Reading in the partnership," Operations Manager Richard Owen said. "There are three possible options for savings: redundancies, increase course fees, new courses... There could be more course fees, by either increasing camera loading (we are the lowest level in the UK) or more courses -- ACPO suggest extra courses for offenses between 40 and 49 MPH. One course is currently allowed every three years. Perhaps this might be changed to one every two years. Re-offenders could have a second longer education course. The suggested cost might be &80 (US $124) course with £30 (US $46) administration fee."

The group put on 53,000 classes last year. Even the judiciary, which is supposed to be an independent arbiter of the guilt or innocence of ticket recipients, plays a significant role in the financial aspects of the partnership.

"Her Majesty's Courts Service has a meeting planned to bring back-office staff together to discuss savings, centralizing in one office, etc," Rob Povey of the Thames Valley Police said. "Any savings would be planned for next year and difficult to bring in this year, as changes this year would include redundancy costs. Redeployment is the first option."

Owen also discussed the possibility of a national grant funding model that "requires all partners to agree (to) activity levels," meaning issuing a specified minimum number of tickets in a given month to maintain revenue levels. Other structures included setting up the partnership as a charity or a non-profit organization.

Source: Strategy Committee Meeting Minutes (Thames Valley Speed Camera Partnership, 8/11/2010)

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