London, 23 Oct 2001.
For immediate release.

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Press Release

When Is Dark Blue A Bright Colour?
When It Makes Money!
Police forces around the country are ignoring Government promises to paint speed cameras in bright colours - because they get to keep some of the money made by hidden ones.
After widespread criticism of speed cameras being deliberately hidden from motorists so that they made money from fines instead of slowing drivers down, the Government vowed to act. David Blunkett promised that speed cameras would be painted in hi-viz colours like the ones trialled in Plymouth. This would, he said, prove that the Government was interested in road safety and not yet another stealth motoring tax.

Yet most police forces have completely ignored the requirement, leaving their cameras in grey boxes and continuing to hide them behind road-signs and hedges. And many police forces which claim to have hi-viz cameras are painting them ... dark blue!

Norfolk Chief Constable Ken Williams said in August that speed cameras should be "bright and visible". He said "Our whole policy is not about catching speeding motorists, but about changing the behaviour of drivers." And yet the colour he selected to make sure motorists spot cameras turns out to be dark blue! *See Footnote   Police in Northants have pulled the same trick.

The Association of British Drivers today called on David Blunkett to make good on his promise that cameras will be used to slow drivers down, not to generate revenue from fines.

"We want to see the government put their money where their mouth is," said ABD spokesman Ben Lovejoy. "If they genuinely want to use cameras as a safety tool, they will detect inappropriate speed and ensure that they can be clearly seen. If, on the other hand, they simply want to use them as yet another stealth tax on motorists, they will continue to paint them in grey and blue and continue to hide them behind road-signs and the like."

The ABD believes that hidden cameras not only do nothing to make roads safer, they can actually make them more dangerous. "There is a danger that drivers busy scanning for hard-to-spot cameras may pay too little attention to pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers, making a stretch of road more dangerous," said Ben Lovejoy.

Government claims that existing cameras save lives just don't add up. If you add up all of the claimed reductions in fatalities - 67 here, 35 there, 27 on this stretch, 45 on that stretch - the total adds up to many hundreds of lives the Government says have been saved by cameras. And yet if you look at the actual road casualty statistics, the total UK fall in deaths in the last 12 months was just 14 - well within the usual random up-and-down range.

The ABD called for the Government to enforce a uniform national scheme for bright Gatsos:

Bright Gatsos have almost universal support:

Bright Gatsos are also unbeatable value for money. Painting the cameras in Plymouth cost just £250 - making them the cheapest road safety initiative around. Done nationally, the cost per camera would be even lower.

"The ABD is not opposed to speed cameras in principle," said the ABD's Ben Lovejoy. "If they were positioned outside schools, placed in sight and painted in hi-viz colours, we believe that they genuinely would save lives. But dark and hidden cameras on safe stretches of road can achieve only one thing: generate revenue for the Treasury. Let's see an end to stealth taxation and use them as a proper road safety tool."


Notes for Editors

* Footnote

Since this Press Release was issued the ABD has been contacted by Norfolk Police and advised that Chief Constable Ken Williams is in fact against the use of dark blue cameras and would prefer high visibility ones.
However, he has been over-ruled by Norfolk County Council on the advice of council environment staff, who claim that dark blue is more "environmentally friendly".
The ABD wishes to apologize to Mr Williams for inadvertantly attributing the blame to him when it is the county council who are the guilty party.

Apparently, the absurdity of the situation is that the camera housings are owned by the council, whilst the cameras themselves are owned by the police. If you live in Norfolk please contact your local county councillor and tell them the truth. Demand they stop going against the advice of the Chief Constable and the Home Secretary.

See also our next press release >>>