The ABD has been sent copies of these emails to the Staffordshire Safety Camera Partnership written by a former police traffic officer living in Tamworth.
First E-mail sent 14th Sept 2004:
Over the last 24 hours, four new fixed speed cameras have appeared on the old A5 Watling Street, B5404, Tamworth, close to my home address in Wilnecote.
I am flabbergasted by the level of cameras now appearing around our area, such as Two Gates and Dosthill.....they are breeding almost as fast as rabbits.
I understood that the cameras were to be placed at locations deemed as 'accident blackspots', areas where serious or fatals accidents are occurring on a regular basis where speed appears the underlying factor or areas such as outside schools etc. where speeding motorists are common during the school day.
I have lived in Wilnecote for 5 years and I am unaware of fatal accidents occurring at the new locations of the four cameras alone the old A5, B5404, Watling Street between Two Gates and Claymore and either side of Orkney Drive, nor there being accident blackspots at these locations.
I have not seen any Truvelo type recording equipment used regularly to monitor the times that speeding motorists use this section of the B5404, as these monitors are usually the black rubber strips spaced a metre apart to gauge the average speed of the cars travelling over them during a set time and logged into the recording box affixed to the lamppost closeby.
Furthermore, I have not witnessed Police or mobile cameras regularly being used to assist in speed reduction at the locations therefore warranting the use of fixed cameras.
I am a retired Traffic police officer who worked both Motorway and territorial Traffic using VASCAR, Truvelo, hand held and video equipment and spent many years detecting and educating the public in the area of speeding and accident prevention, but cameras now seem fixed for one purpose only and that is monetary revenue. Not in any way are motorists being educated. Using the excuse that if people do not speed then you will not obtain income is a limp one, because from experience I know that it is so easy to set up cameras and catch motorists exceeding the limit by the minimum 10%+, therefore obtaining income. I was under the impression from Government guidelines that all camera sites now in force were to be set at areas as outlined above and not at quick fix income areas as these new four cameras seem to have been placed. Are the cameras also being set using the previously tried and tested 16mph above the limit to ensure that motorists who are slightly above the limit are not cannon fodder for income benefit.
I have dealt with death and carnage and am not adverse to cameras properly placed at spots where death has found to have been regular and speed induced. Other measures such as high visibility traffic checks, re-design of the roads, traffic calming etc are all measures but obviously cost more money without monetary return to yourselves, so are not as appealing.
I do however believe strongly from my years of experience that the Police and civilian staff should educate the public and ensure the true 'high speeders', drink drivers and reckless drivers are targeted and that cameras are not placed all over with money as the root priority which it seems these are. Cameras in Two Gates and Dosthill and the village of Hints for instance seem to have been placed as though you had a 'buy one get one free' as they almost follow each other along the road, then for miles there isn't one at all.
I am not just contacting you to vent my frustration I would like an explanation as to why these cameras have been installed and the guidelines and statistics used to justify them. I have also contacted my local MP and media as I believe these cameras have been installed against the current legislation and guidelines.
Second Email sent 28th Sept 2004:
Dear Ms. Hoddinott,
I have noted your comments in the Tamworth Herald dated 23/09/2004 with interest. I emailed your department on 14/09/2004 but as yet I have only received an automated response.
I am saddened to learn there has been one fatal accident, and would be extremely interested to know when and EXACTLY where it took place especially in relation to the new cameras. The same information I would ask with regard to the other accidents mentioned. I am extremely surprised to learn that there have been 37 accidents between the camera sites in the two years you state, all with speed being the primary factor.
I also note that random speed checks have been done on the road. Could you furnish me with all the data regarding this, particularly what time of day the checks were done and as you have mentioned the school in your comments I am presuming they were done at school drop off and pick up times. I would be obliged also for the number of vehicles checked rather than the percentages as this can obviously be very misleading.
Obviously a Truvelo data collection device would obtain all this information over a 24 or more hour continuous period therefore making statistics showing which particular period of the day generated instances of excessive speeding. Can you confirm how the data was obtained, the method of collection, and the exact dates and times the data was collected. I am interested to learn what new device has become available that records all vehicles speed that pass through it, because without this you would be unable to state 79% of vehicles were speeding, and presumably 21% were not.
Can you furnish me with the department within the DfT that you obtained your approval from?
I would be grateful of a direct reply rather than using the media of the Herald to learn the answer of my initial email to your department. I would of course be happy to share this information with the Herald's readers but courtesy prevails.
We will publish any reply that the camera partnership might eventually make.