We Are Not Amused
North Wales Police recently spent over £2000 of taxpayers' money sending an officer and a civilian employee to see how Victoria Police in Australia use speed cameras.
We could have saved them the trip. Victoria Police have recently been forced to refund 90,000 speeding fines after a speed camera on the Melbourne Western Ring Road was shown to be faulty.
AU$14 million (£5.5M) will have to be refunded, and a fund of AU$6 million (£2.4M) has been set up to compensate some 3000 drivers whose driving licences were wrongly confiscated.
Public anger at the speed camera operation in Victoria is so great that one operator had his car stolen whilst he was loading equipment into it; and only this week, a 28 year-old man is alleged to have driven at the car of a police officer who was operating a speed camera in Melbourne. This kind of behaviour cannot be condoned but it reflects the strong feelings of public resentment when policing becomes fleecing.
ABD Spokesman Nigel Humphries said:
"That North Wales police sent these two men on a jolly to Australia is bad enough, but to send them to a police force who have been shown to be incompetent in their management of speed cameras is disgraceful."
North Wales Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom, who is also head of the Association of Chief Police Officers traffic committee, has long been a fan of Victoria's speed camera operation, he even adopted the same name ("Arrive Alive") for the North Wales speed camera operation.
ABD Chairman Brian Gregory said:
"Brunstrom has nailed his colours to the speed camera mast, and the increase in deaths last year showed just how deep is the hole he has dug for himself. Clearly, he intends to continue digging until he reaches Australia, which is where his flawed ideas on road safety originated."
In the first seven months of 2004 there were 219 deaths on Victoria's roads, compared to only 205 during the same period in 2003. In July 2004 there were 28 deaths in Victoria, compared to only 20 in July 2003, an increase of 40%. Hardly a resounding success story.
Instead of wasting public money on sending staff to Victoria, where they already know what is happening, North Wales Police should arrange trips to Ontario and British Columbia in Canada, where speed cameras have been scrapped. Who knows, they might actually learn something useful about road safety there.